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Is this the End of the Line for Equality Maryland?

Not to cause a panic or anything, but to say that things seem “dire” at Equality Maryland is a bit of an understatement.

The last few months saw two surprising legislative failures — first to a marriage bill, then to a nondiscrimination bill.

And then there were weeks of contradictory statements and infighting, culminating in the announcement that they’re practically out of money. Gee, we can’t imagine why big donors are scared to chip in right now.

Other headlines making this week’s marriage roundup: the ticking clock in New York, civil unions starting this week in Illinois, and did you hear about the French politician who compared gay couples to bestiality? Maybe she doesn’t know what “gay” means, or she doesn’t know what bestiality is. Either way, someone should probably take her aside and clue her in.

After the jump: all those stories and more, courtesy of Marriage News Watch (a project of Queerty editor Matt Baume).

What is going on at Equality Maryland? Six months ago, all signs indicated that the state would legalize marriage. We’d picked up more supportive legislators than ever before. We had enough votes to pass the Senate and the House Judiciary Committee. The Governor promised to sign it. We had an eight-point advantage in public opinion polls. And then suddenly, amidst betrayals from formerly supportive legislators, the House just gave up on the bill and sent it back to committee for another year.

Then things really started falling apart. At first, Equality Maryland Executive Director Morgan Meneses-Sheets said she had no plans to leave, but then announced that the board had fired her. She left at the end of April, and Equality Maryland brought in Lynne Bowman, former head of Equality Ohio, to lead the organization in the mean time.

But now, a month later, Bowman’s back in Ohio and says she doesn’t know when — or if — she’ll be coming back to Maryland.

Meanwhile, Equality Maryland announced this week that so many donors have dried up, they need 20 thousand dollars in the next few weeks, or else they’ll have to shut down operations.

The board president says the money problems are Meneses-Sheets’ fault, she says its not true, and everyone’s so busy bickering that now our opponents don’t even have to lift a finger.

So, Maryland. Get it together.

Let’s take a look at New York next. This week, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg released a lengthy speech urging his colleagues to support marriage equality. He’s also pledged to provide financial support to Republicans who vote with us.

That’s a big promise, coming from the 13th richest person in the country. But we still don’t have enough votes in the Senate.

Visit to take action now. There are just twenty one days left to pass this bill.

In Illinois, civil unions are slated to start this coming Thursday. Officials are planning celebrations all over the state, with Chicago’s official ceremony happening at 10am at Wrigley Square.

But not everyone’s celebrating. A Catholic Charities adoption organization is so opposed to placing children with parents in a civil union that they’ve decided to simply abandon the 350 foster kids they currently serve. Now the state will have to step in to take care of the children.

The fight over Minnesota’s anti-gay constitutional amendment is continuing to heat up, even though voters won’t have a chance to weigh in for another year.

This week Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton vetoed the legislation — a purely symbolic act that has no legal impact, but makes for good PR. In addition, the White House issued a statement opposing the measure.

In California, we’re approaching a June 13th hearing over two important issues. The first is whether Judge Walker should have been disqualified from hearing the Prop 8 case because, as a gay man in a relationship, the outcome affected him. The second issue is whether the public should be denied access to the video record of the trial.

The Prop 8 proponents have been tying each other in logical knots over both issues. Regarding Judge Walker, their latest claim is that he should be disqualified because Prop 8 affects gay people, but not straight people.

Really. That’s what they’re saying now. They actually wrote in a court filing that no existing heterosexual marriage is affected by gay couples. Which is great! It’s what we’ve been saying all along. Apparently, Ted Olson and David Boies are so persuasive they’ve even convinced their opposing counsel.

The only problem is that that’s the complete opposite of what they were saying during the Prop 8 campaign. Remember the ads about “protecting our children” and “denying our rights“?

The whole point of those ads was telling people that gay marriage has consequences. And now they say it doesn’t? Either they were lying then or they’re lying now.

Either way, we can’t wait to see them torn to shreds in court on June 13th.

Let’s check some international headlines: This week Human Rights Watch launched a campaign to persuade Latvian officials to provide recognition to same-sex couples. Chilean activists have announced a rally for marriage in Santiago on June 25. And in France, MP Brigitte Barèges ignited a firestorm when she said that gay weddings are equivalent to “unions with animals.” After being unanimously condemned — and even called “disgraceful” by members of her own party — Barèges refused to apologize and said she was just kidding.

Those are the headlines. Click over here to subscribe to weekly updates or over here to watch some of our previous coverage, including bad news in Minnesota and the Republicans who are struggling to turn their party around on LGBT issues.

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