Friday, March 04, 2011

Delegate Lied About Support for Marriage [ Updated ]

Maryland Politics Watch called Maryland state Delegate Sam Arora "the Hunk of the Hill", "one of Capitol Hill’s most beautiful people," and "a nice guy, too." He worked for Hillary Clinton, looks like Ben Stiller, he is an easy politician to write about. Arora represents District 19, which includes Aspen Hill and Leisure World, in the state House of Delegates.

Arora ran on a progressive platform and was endorsed by Progressive Maryland and even Equality Maryland, following his positive responses to questionnaires and interviews showing strong support for LGBT issues, especially marriage equality.

But he lied.

When the subject of same-sex marriage came to the Maryland House of Delegates after passing in the Senate, activists had counted on Arora's vote, and suddenly it's not there. Jonathan Capehart tells the story well enough in the Washington Post:
Around 9:00 a.m. Thursday, Maryland House Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County) -- who raised a ton of cash from the gay community and progressives based on his stance on marriage equality and who is a co-sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill now about to come up for a vote -- tweeted, "Hearing from constituents, friends. Please keep sending your thoughts ( Thinking & praying hard." And he's been catching hell on his Facebook page ever since.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Arora has said he will vote for the marriage equality bill in the judiciary committee, but has yet to commit to voting for the measure when it hits the floor, possibly next week. "This bill deserves an up-or-down vote, so I'm voting to send it to the floor," he told the Sun. That sudden reluctance to say he will vote for a bill he co-sponsored has friends mystified and former supporters fuming, at best, calling him a liar and demanding their donations back, at worst.

Even Arora's friends from Democratic Party politics and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign are mystified. Democratic strategist Karen Finney called his apparent change of heart "[v]ery disappointing" in a post on Arora's Facebook page. And Neera Tanden, policy director for Clinton's campaign and then the domestic policy adviser on the Obama-Biden campaign, is among those who wants her contribution refunded.
I am profoundly disappointed that supporting marriage equality is even a question for Sam. This isn't the Sam I knew and worked with, or supported in his campaign. I am asking him to return my contribution to his campaign.

I should point out that Arora received the endorsement of The Washington Post last October. Sam Arora's disgraceful wavering on marriage equality in Maryland

It appears he had everybody fooled.

A real trojan horse, his good looks and charm got him into the House and from there he is able to undermine the work of thousands of individuals, able to destroy the momentum built up by hundreds of Maryland couples who had hoped to be able to marry soon.

Capehart has an insight.
One clue to how he might vote was just noticed by the folks at AMERICAblog Gay. A Tweet from Arora on Jan. 25 championing his co-sponsorship of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act was deleted from his Twitter feed. Arora hasn't responded to my request to talk yet. If he does, I would ask him about that deleted Tweet. I would also want him to confirm reports by AMERICAblog Gay that he has already decided against voting for the marriage equality bill due to pressure from his church and because he doesn't want to "redefine marriage."

Wow, I didn't even know you can delete items from your Twitter feed. So he went back and revised his history ... very clever.
The outrage directed at Arora is understandable. As is the sense of betrayal. He raised money from gays and lesbians based on his support for marriage equality. He secured the endorsements of Progressive Maryland and of Equality Maryland because of it. In fact, get a load of what he wrote as an addendum to his questionnaire for Equality Maryland.
I am a former law clerk to Attorney General Doug Gansler. I publicly supported his decision to recognize out-of-state marriage licenses for same-sex couples and immediately put out a release praising his findings. For me, it's simply a matter of equal rights under the law.

Gay Marylanders want the respect, dignity and responsibility that comes with marriage. And Arora was elected to his first term in the House of Delegates, in part, because of his promise to get it done. Politicians break promises all the time. But this is different. If Arora fails to vote for the marriage equality bill he campaigned for and co-sponsored when it comes to the floor next week not only would it be disgraceful, he would be a disgrace.

Maryland conservatives might be gloating today about successfully sneaking a liar into the House of Delegates.

One campaign donor who is asking for his money back wrote an open letter which included this paragraph:
This morning, I spoke with a mutual friend who spoke yesterday to Sam about his pending vote. According to that friend, Sam told him point blank that he would be voting against marriage equality because he is born again and doesn't want to redefine marriage.

So it looks like the religious right successfully slipped a ringer into the House of Delegates. And man, people are mad! This guy's political career is toast.

[ Update: Arora has just posted a statement on his web site HERE saying that he will vote for the marriage bill. He writes: "I will vote to send the bill to the governor so that Marylanders can ultimately decide this issue at the polls." In other words, he will vote for the bill, assuming it will go to referendum. ]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And man, people are mad! This guy's political career is toast."

he realized his error and changed his way

that's rare for a politician so I think he'll have a bright future

sounds like second thoughts about this bill are contagious

March 04, 2011 10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I will vote to send the bill to the governor so that Marylanders can ultimately decide this issue at the polls."

I'm thinking this doesn't make either side too happy

he's going to vote for something he doesn't believe in hoping it will be overturned by Maryland voters?

how stupid does he think the voters are?

I'm on Jim's side now

the guy is toast

March 04, 2011 12:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since Arora has already made everyone upset, then he might as well vote with his heart and vote against the marriage bills.

In the end, we have only our own consciences to contend with. He might as well go with his.

March 04, 2011 2:04 PM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

I do not know Sam Arora, and have no way to look into his heart. Did he lie to voters, or had he not really come to grips with the hold that his religion might have on him? I do not know. And I don't think that any of us knows.

I think we should operate on the assumption that he is a work in progress. From his statements over the past days, it is clear that he has no problem with extending equal rights and responsibilities in the abstract. What he apparently does not yet fully understand is that without the respect accorded by marriage, mere civil union is not sufficient. Let's help him -- and others like him -- get to that place.

March 04, 2011 2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could understand your point if he chose a side and qualified his misgivings but to punt to the voters is really a dereliction of duty

we can all sympathize with tough calls but if he can't make them, he should choose a different career

March 04, 2011 2:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marriage or "civil union" as defined by homophobic society (notably our favorite "Anonymous" here) - sorta like, ya know, "Separate but Equal". Thought we did away with that concept 50 some years ago!

March 07, 2011 2:22 PM  

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