Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Which Vote Will They Regret?

Great coverage by the Baltimore Sun.
Two more state senators — Edward J. Kasemeyer of Howard County and Katherine Klausmeier of Baltimore County — announced this week that they will support same-sex marriage legislation, and Sen. James Brochin of Baltimore County said last week that he had switched from opposing the measure to supporting it. That brings the total of announced supporters of the bill up to 23, just one shy of the 24 necessary for passage.

Many steps are still needed before marriage equality is a reality in Maryland, but the development is nonetheless remarkable and a testament to how quickly public attitudes about gay marriage are changing. One of the major reasons for that has been the courage of thousands of gay Marylanders to defy social stigma and live openly as they are, an act that has forced lawmakers and society as a whole to acknowledge that they are normal, upstanding citizens, just the same as anyone else, and deserve all the same rights and privileges.

Senator Klausmeier, for example, has said that she grew up with a traditional religious background but that as she has become friends with more and more gay people, her views changed. Senator Brochin, who had previously backed civil unions but not same-sex marriage, was actually swayed by the testimony before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee last week. Confronted with the contrast between the alarmist rhetoric of same-sex marriage opponents and the reality of healthy, stable families asking for nothing more than equal rights, he changed his mind.

Gay rights advocates also appear wise to have set their sights on true marriage equality rather than the half-measure of civil unions. Sen. Allan Kittleman, so far the only Republican supporting the bill, initially pushed civil union legislation but found no support for it among either the proponents or opponents of gay marriage; it was too much for one side and not enough for the other. Forced, then, to choose between perpetuating a system in which a group is treated by state law as second-class citizens or taking a stand for civil rights, he chose the latter. Gay marriage on the brink in Maryland

Really, it seems that the best thing that could have happened was for The Nutty Ones to go to Annapolis and testify in the legislative hearing. I speak from my own experience when I say that it is possible to live without realizing the intensity of hatred that exists out there, you might think that LGBT advocates are exaggerating when they tell how they are harassed and the degree to which those who hate them will distort the truth, but once you see it firsthand you will never forget it.

It appears that several legislators, at least, were awakened with a shock when speakers from our county's Citizens for Responsible Government, the National Organization for Marriage and other groups streamed into their hall to spew disrespect and untruth.

There's more:
That leaves four senators who remain undecided or who have not said how they will vote: John Astle of Anne Arundel County; Joan Carter Conway of Baltimore City; and Ulysses Currie and James Rosapepe of Prince George’s County. All four are Democrats. Much of the attention has focused on Ms. Conway, who earlier told The Sun’s Annie Linskey and Julie Bykowicz that she would not vote for the bill if it looked like it was going to fail but that if there were 23 votes on the board, she would “pray really hard” and make her decision. That, essentially, is the position we find ourselves in now. But she is hardly the only one of the remaining four holdouts who may vote for the legislation in the end; Mr. Rosapepe, for example, represents a district that includes liberal College Park.

In an ideal world, calculations about the next election would play no role in a vote affirming basic civil rights. But there is no doubt that such considerations are a part of the senators’ thinking. The trouble is, it’s hard to know what the immediate electoral consequences of this vote will be. The most recent public polling puts support for gay marriage at just over a majority in this state, but that may not be the case in the moderate to conservative districts most of the swing senators represent. But it is worth noting that Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, an outspoken proponent of legalizing same-sex marriage, has suffered no political consequences for his stance whatsoever. He didn’t generate opposition in either the primary or general elections last year. This legislation may look controversial now, as civil rights bills did in the 1960s. Within a few years, it won’t.

As the remaining senators decide what to do, they need to take a much longer view than one centered on the next election. During rallies and hearings this year — and in the everyday presence of Sen. Rich Madaleno, his partner and their children — they have seen that gay families are just as loving, caring and deserving as any other. The question before them is whether the state should recognize that fact or continue to deny it. The undecided senators need to ask themselves, when they look back many years from now, which vote will they regret?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

They'll regret voting for the bill. No doubt about it.

February 15, 2011 11:59 PM  
Anonymous One Ronnie Regrets said...

This month's national remembrance of Ronald Reagan's 100th birthday is focusing largely on his accomplishments. But no look back at the nation's 40th president would be complete without remembering his inattention to the AIDS epidemic, which arose on his watch.

Consider that Mayor Dianne Feinstein's AIDS budget for the City of San Francisco was bigger than President Reagan's AIDS budget was for the entire nation. That was true for two years in-a-row in the mid-1980's. In fact, Reagan's proposed federal budget for 1986 actually called for an 11 percent reduction in AIDS spending: from $95 million in 1985, down to $85.5 million in 1986.

No wonder it was left to San Francisco gay leaders, politicians and medical professionals to forge their own way through the early days of the disease, forming what became known as "The San Francisco Model" for effectively dealing with it, a model which would be replicated world-wide.

The disease that we now call AIDS was first identified 30 years ago in medical journals in 1981 -- President Reagan's first year in office. It quickly took hold in the media and in the national consciousness. Yet it wasn't until May 31, 1987 that President Reagan would give his first major address on AIDS. It was at an outdoor speech in Washington organized by amFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Elizabeth Taylor, a lifelong friend of Ron and Nancy Reagan, persuaded the President to be there. On the exact night that he gave that speech, saying the word "AIDS" for the first time in public, 21,000 Americans had already died from the disease.

The Reagans' close friend Rock Hudson was one of them, having died from AIDS almost two years before Reagan's speech. Hudson had been a frequent guest in the Reagan White House, even during the time that he appeared gaunt and frail. Nancy Reagan later recalled one such occasion, in which Hudson told her he had picked up a bug in Israel. But even Hudson's ordeal didn't seem to shake Reagan out of his lethargy.

President Reagan did have people around him who were more engaged in dealing with AIDS, notably his surgeon general, C. Everett Koop, and Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health. But in the office where Harry Truman said the buck stops, the silence on AIDS continues to be a baffling part of the Reagan legacy.

Special for The Examiner & San Francisco AIDS Foundation

February 16, 2011 8:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When Reagan was president, there was a lung disease that killed many thousands more people per year than AIDS did during Reagan's term. My dad died of that disease.

Reagan never gave any funding for that lung disease.

February 16, 2011 3:55 PM  
Anonymous yuck!! said...

HONOLULU - The Hawaii Legislature approved a bill on Wednesday allowing civil unions for same-sex couples, sending the measure to the governor, who has said he will sign it into law.

Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie's office said he intends to sign the bill within 10 days, and civil unions would begin Jan. 1, 2012.

February 16, 2011 7:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a story that hints what our new Democratic friends in Egypt may vote for:

""60 Minutes" correspondent Lara Logan was repeatedly sexually assaulted by thugs yelling, "Jew! Jew!" as she covered the chaotic fall of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo's main square Friday, CBS said yesterday.

The TV crew with Logan, who is also the network's chief foreign correspondent, had its cameras rolling moments before she was dragged off -- and caught her on tape looking tense and trying to head away from a crowd of men behind her in Tahrir Square.

"Logan was covering the jubilation . . . when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration," CBS said in a statement. "It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into a frenzy.

"In the crush of the mob, Logan was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers.

"She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning," the network added. "She is currently in the hospital recovering."

A network source said that her attackers were screaming, "Jew! Jew!" during the assault. And the day before, Logan had told Esquire.com that Egyptian soldiers hassling her and her crew had accused them of "being Israeli spies." Logan is not Jewish.""

unfortunately, in parts of the world without a Judeo-Christian heritage, two things are ubiqitous:

1. antisemitism

2. misogyny

when such people collectively express their hatred, what will the resulting society be like?

February 16, 2011 10:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same day that Hawaii passed its civil union bill, the Wyoming Senate approved a bill (HB 74) which would decline recognition of same-sex marriages.

February 17, 2011 11:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


February 17, 2011 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, if this bill to corrupt marriage passes, it will be delayed until November 2012, when the voters will rule

that never goes well for deviant forces

you think Maryland will be the first electorate to sleazify marriage?

unlikely, but lunatic fringe homosexual advocates do have a coupla chances:

slim and none

oh but, just think, family advocates and socially conservative citizens will be engaged and at the polls

while we're there, in huge numbers, we just might make a few other changes in the la-la land of the east coast: Maryland

February 17, 2011 9:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"to sleazify marriage"???

Ooh, that's clever

February 17, 2011 9:53 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

oh but, just think, family advocates and socially conservative citizens will be engaged and at the polls

They don't do very well at polls in Maryland. Look at the candidacies of Martha Scherr for MoCo school board and Bobby Haircut for Governor; they both lost badly. Tea baggers and social conservatives did not make any great gains in Maryland in the 2010 election. In fact, the 2010 election results caused Maryland to go from having only four out gay legislators to having seven.

February 18, 2011 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the point, Beatrice, is that there will be a specific cause drawing conservatives to the polls in 2012 if this sleazification of marriage passes the Maryland legislature so this may have ramifications in other issues

btw, in some other states where gay "marriage" has been put to the electorate, it started out ahead in the polls and a full discussion of the issues caused voters to change their minds

there is no reason to believe Maryland would be any different than, say, California

February 18, 2011 1:15 PM  
Anonymous Aunt Bea said...

There are many reasons to expect a different outcome in MD. It's a few years later now, DADT has been repealed by Congress, the appellate court has struck down the Prop 8 vote as unconstitutional, and public opinion is definitely turning to favor marriage equality for all Americans.

February 19, 2011 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sometimes you are a barrel of laughs, "Anonymous"
"you think Maryland will be the first electorate to sleazify marriage?"

Actually, heterosexuals have done more than their share of "sleazifying" marriage...all on their own, with no help from GLBT people.

"family advocates and socially conservative citizens will be engaged and at the polls...
while we're there, in huge numbers, we just might make a few other changes in the la-la land of the east coast: Maryland"

Glad to know you think so highly of the citizens of Maryland. Perhaps you might seriously consider moving to Wyoming. We wouldn't miss you and your stupidity one bit!

February 19, 2011 3:01 PM  

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