Saturday, February 18, 2012

Marriage Bill Passes in Maryland

Yesterday the Maryland House of Delegates voted to permit marriage for same-sex couples. The state Senate is expected to also vote in favor, and the governor has promised to sign the bill.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The Maryland House narrowly passed a law legalizing same-sex marriage on Friday, delivering a major victory to Gov. Martin O’Malley, a Democrat, who had proposed it. But its implementation remained uncertain as its opponents promised to take it to voters in November.

The bill, known as the Civil Marriage Protection Act, squeaked by in a 72-to-67 vote, drawing loud applause and cheers from proponents in the House. A similar bill failed in the chamber last year.

The measure still faces a vote in the Senate, where it is expected to pass, before Mr. O’Malley can sign it into law. But opponents have pledged to put in on the ballot for a vote on Nov. 6, a prospect that the bill’s supporters acknowledge is practically a foregone conclusion.

The vote, said Anthony O’Donnell, the Republican minority leader, amounted to “beginning a process, not ending a process. The citizens of Maryland will have the final say.” In Maryland, House Passes Bill to Let Gays Wed

In other words, you can expect a referendum, you can expect the shower-nuts to evoke every gay stereotype they can think of, you can bet money that CRW's president Ruth Jacobs is going to use the term "anal sex" in every forum that will have her.

The immediate fight is not over, but the tide of public opinion has turned dramatically. Most people now see that it is a good thing for people who love one another to marry and start a family.

A little more:
The bill’s passage would make Maryland the eighth state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. It comes a day after New Jersey’s legislature passed a similar bill, though it was vetoed on Friday by Gov. Chris Christie. New York State legalized same-sex marriage last year, and this month Washington State did so.

In order to be palatable to delegates who were undecided, the bill was amended so that it would not take effect until Jan. 1, 2013, in order to allow the ballot process to take its course. Though Maryland is heavily Democratic, the party is sharply divided on the issue of same-sex marriage.
Of 98 Democrats in the House, as many as 30 — mostly more-conservative Democrats known as Blue Dogs, and African-Americans from districts where churches are strong — had been undecided.

The bill’s passage was made possible by two Republicans, three Blue Dogs, and two African-American delegates, none of whom were initially supportive. In interviews, several of those delegates said that a key change from last year that won their support was language protecting religious institutions from being forced to perform marriages.

Governor O'Malley has been a strong supporter of marriage equality in the state. On the other hand, one Montgomery County Delegate who ran on promises of supporting it, with strong backing from the gay community, turned around and voted against it. Metro Weekly:
A Democrat opposing the bill both last year and this year is Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery), who had run on a platform that included support for marriage equality but enraged activists in 2011 by opposing the bill when it was being considered. Although advocates had been pushing for him to support the bill this year, he voted "nay" tonight.

Sounds like a guy who can look forward to not being re-elected.

OK, people, time to buckle up and brace yourselves for the referendum fight.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the graph illustrating the turn around in public opinion on this matter. Here's an even more dramatic evidence of that turn around right here in Maryland.

In 2005, Anne Arundel State Del. Don Dwyer was the keynote speaker for the shower-nuts here in Montgomery County. As the only elected official the shower-nut could find who would stand and speak at their lecturn, Dwyer said:

"If you don’t know about it, I’ve been accused of spreading hate and fear among the churches throughout the State of Maryland. Guilty as charged. I am spreading hate and fear. I am spreading the hate of the homosexual activist and I’m spreading my fear of what’s going to happen to this great state and our great nation if people of this world do not take a stand."

He's apparently learned a lot during his intervening years in public office here in the great state of Maryland. Yesterday Del. Dwyer struck a conciliatory tone when he said:

"I know all of you expect me to get up here and go into a tirade," he said before extending an olive branch. "I will be forever grateful to my friends on the other side of the issue who have extended their hand."

If the General Assembly passes the bill and Maryland voters ratify it in a referendum, he said, "who am I to stand in the way?"""

February 18, 2012 11:11 AM  
Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

This is, of course, wonderful news. If there is a referendum, we should treat it as an opportunity to expand the discussion about human rights and human dignity. And I hope that by the time the discussion ends in November, those who support civil unions, but not civil marriage, will have been brought around. We don't let church doctrine bar divorce -- so why should we let church doctrine bar full civil marriage equality.

The Washington Post article ( closes with the following:

"During debate Friday, delegates rejected a proposed amendment, 78 to 45, to legalize civil unions rather than same-sex marriage."

Having listened to some of the debate last night, it seems that a number of delegates understand the need for equal treatment of gay couples, but just can't get over the word "marriage." I wonder how many of the 45 who voted for civil unions voted against civil marriage. If, as I suspect, all or most of the supporters of civil marriage (and all of the totally anti-gay delegates) voted against civil unions, then an overwhelming majority of the House of Delegates is in favor of either civil marriage or civil unions. Which would mean that there may be a very small percentage of the House of Delegates who cannot abide the idea of gay people being out and having families. If I am right in my hypothesis about the numbers, that is a big, yet so far underreported, part of the story.

February 18, 2012 1:51 PM  

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