Adultery May Become Legal, but Minors Marrying May Become Illegal

Maryland State House in Annapolis, Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland — Gov. Larry Hogan announced in a news conference Thursday that he has developed a common and “not-serious” form of skin cancer, and will have a procedure to fully remove the cancerous spots from his forehead Saturday.

Hogan’s dermatologist, Dr. Beth Diamond of Annapolis Dermatology Center, biopsied several lesions from the Republican governor’s forehead during a recent annual skin examination.

Further testing determined the lesions to be “extremely common” cancers, superficial basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, according to a letter from Diamond.

The governor said this cancer is “completely unrelated” to the advanced non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma he battled and defeated earlier in his term. He attributes the common skin ailment to the six years he spent as a lifeguard in Florida. “It’s basically sun damage,” he said.

These skin cancers “are most often induced by a history of sun exposure,” Diamond wrote in the letter.

Hogan is not expected to miss a day of work following the “Mohs surgery,” though he will likely return to work with stitches on Monday. Luckily, he said, “scars are cool.”

Meanwhile, business goes on in the State House, with bills advancing through the Maryland General Assembly this week touching on adultery, child marriage and more.

Bill would decriminalize adultery

Adultery is illegal in Maryland and is a misdemeanor, punishable by $10 fine.

At least three adultery violations were filed in Maryland district courts during fiscal 2017, while the state’s Office of the Public Defender confirmed it has handled five cases over the past eight years. None of those cases consisted of adultery as the primary charge, according to a state legislative analysis.

The House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday heard House Bill 267, sponsored by Delegate Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery, that would repeal the misdemeanor.


Including Maryland, 19 states still have statutes criminalizing adultery, and Dumais seeks to make it 18.

“The fine is a whopping $10 and, in my 28 years of practice, I have never, ever, had a client charged with it or been in a case where anyone was charged with it,” Dumais, a divorce lawyer, said in her testimony.

In his testimony Tuesday, Maryland family attorney James Milko argued the law is not only outdated but directly impacts legal proceedings. He said the law in place thwarts the purpose of some statutes in the divorce arena.

Dumais agreed.

“This is simply arcane,” Dumais said. “It is still a ground for divorce and is something we can talk about in family law cases, but there need not be a crime on the books.”

Legislation would make youth marriages illegal

Under current Maryland law, youths at least 15 years old may marry. That would change under a bill making its way through the Legislature.

Delegate Vanessa Atterbeary, D-Howard, is sponsoring House bill 191, which would repeal provisions allowing 16- and 17-year-olds from marrying with consent of a parent or guardian.

The legislation also prevents 15-year-olds, who currently can marry with the same consent and a certificate from a medical professional, from marrying. The bill is in its third attempt, Atterbeary said.

Atterbeary showed a video in Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing. The video featured a woman who said she married at 16 years old, wasn’t allowed back in her high school and lost a scholarship because she was considered a dropout.

Atterbeary said bill opponents are misinformed.

“When individuals think of marriage and teenage marriage, it’s, ‘OK, there are some circumstances that have worked out,’” Atterbeary said. “Then there’s this romanticized teen-on-teen love. Then there are these horrific stories that you don’t know until you know.”

Veterans’ suicides would be tracked under bill

A bill sponsored by Sen. Bryan Simonaire, R-Anne Arundel, alters the information required on a death certificate to include, under certain circumstances, the decedent’s military status. It also requires the Maryland Department of Health to publish an annual report on veteran suicide.

On Thursday, Senate bill 66 was heard in the Senate Finance Committee.

A 2016 report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs found that nationally in 2014, an average of 20 veterans committed suicide each day, according to a state legislative analysis. The report stated veterans made up 8.5 percent of the United States population ages 18 and older, but accounted for 18 percent of all deaths by suicide among adults in the United States.

Boat winterization incident sparks safety-related legislation

In 2016, a Capital Gazette article reported, Matthew McHale entered a boat that had already been shrink-wrapped so he could winterize it. McHale idled the engine, which emits carbon monoxide, was found unconscious and later pronounced dead, the newspaper reported.

Also in the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Edward Reilly, R-Anne Arundel, presented Senate bill 19, which “prohibits a business that winterizes boats from shrink wrapping a boat until all winterization procedures that require an employee to be inside the boat are complete.”

The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health program found McHale’s employer had not committed any violations, as there are no regulations or standards specific to the process of winterizing boats.

Divorce bill passes Senate

The Maryland Senate on Thursday passed a bill that would authorize a court to allow divorce on grounds of mutual consent if the parties have minor children. The measure, Senate bill 120, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, came under some debate.

Simonaire and Sen. Andrew Serafini, R-Washington, presented opposition, with the former citing his own experiences as a child of divorced parents.

Zirkin said the bill helps to eliminate a drawn-out process of divorce that can take years to complete.

“This is not some drive-by quickie divorce…it’s saying, if the parties work it out, then they can file without having to go through this farce,” Zirkin s`aid.

The bill passed on third reading via a 33-14 vote.

Franchot aims to help brew pubs

Comptroller Peter Franchot met with Maryland municipal leaders at Chesapeake Brewing Co. in Annapolis on Thursday to discuss a bill that would lift restrictions on craft breweries and aims to make Maryland a leader in craft beer. The meeting came hours before the official start of Maryland’s month-long craft beer celebration, FeBREWary.

“These breweries’ … value cannot be underestimated,” said Franchot, a Democrat, citing an approximate economic impact of $637 million.

–CNS correspondent Hannah Brockway contributed to this report.