Maryland Introduces Bill to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage – Are Democrats Committed to Equality?

Timothy Kincaid

January 25th, 2008

maryland.jpgLegislators in both the State Senate and the House have introduced bills to remove the gender requirement in state marriage law.

More than a fourth of state lawmakers have signed up to sponsor a bill that would legalize same-sex marriages in Maryland, the measure’s proponents announced today.

Although the bills have substantial support, they are unlikely to succeed. The leadership in both houses oppose the bills.

Gov. Martin O’Malley and House Speaker Michael E. Busch have said that they prefer civil unions. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Maryland’s legislature is predominantly Democrat with a 33 to 14 advantage in the State Senate and 103 to 36 in the House. The leaders of both chambers are Democrats, as is the Governor.

The efforts today can probably best be viewed as an inter-party squabble, an effort on the part of some Democrats to force the hand of their leadership.

Although in control, the Maryland Democrat Party has done nothing to advance the rights of gay couples. They sat back after the state Supreme Court declared that gay persons are not equal under the Maryland Constitution and decided that it was just too soon and they are just too busy to find some measure of protection that they could put in place.

This will be an interesting case to watch.

The AP is currently reporting on the frustration that many gay individuals are feeling over the lack of courage on the part of Democrat Presidential candidates to stand up for equality. They quote Bay Windows editor Susan Ryan-Vollmar.

“They’ve merely settled on what the Democrats have staked out as a safe, consensus position, just far enough ahead of where the party was in 2004 to give a sense of progress but not so far as to threaten Middle America,” Ryan-Vollmar wrote. “That’s not leadership, it’s poll-tested and party-approved pandering, pure and simple.”

And some gay writers are starting to question whether Barack Obama’s flirting with the anti-gay black vote by embracing ex-gay Donnie McClurkin was all that accidental in light of his endorsement by Rev. Kirbyjon Caldwell. Even his language used on Martin Luther King’s birthday which was often described as supportive of gay people spoke of “embracing” gays but not necessarily supporting their cause. Those of us familiar with anti-gay religious dogma are weary of “embracing” and “loving” that is not coupled with support for civil equality.

Meanwhile, the Democratic National Committee is being sued for anti-gay discrimination. Documentation released seems to suggest that the DNC may assume that it own the gay vote while showing contempt for the gay voters. (Queerty has a good synopsis)

As we told you earlier, a poll of Marylanders by the Baltimore Sun demonstrated that they overwhelmingly support civil unions or marriage for gay couples. So the legislature leaders cannot claim that the will of the people is not behind couple recognition.

In is into this sense of uncertainty that this bill is being introduced. And the Maryland marriage vote may well become a ‘put up or shut up’ moment. If the Democrats in the Maryland legislature defeat marriage equality without putting in place civil unions, gay men and women may become so disheartened that they question how much energy they wish to place in advancing candidates of a Party that takes them for granted. Gays may begin to ask if being “a bit better than the Republicans” is enough.

See also:
Blade Asks What Happened In Maryland
Maryland Passes Limited Rights for Gay Couples
Maryland Balances Budget by Taxing Gay Widows
Maryland Senator Muse Champions Bigotry
Maryland AG Endorses Marriage Equality
Maryland Legislator Calls Anti-Gay Bluff
Maryland Introduces Bill to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage – Are Democrats Committed to Equality?
Maryland Marriage Poll

Jim Burroway

January 25th, 2008

Given some of the rhetoric coming from the Republican candidates, I think “bit better” doesn’t quite measure the chasm.

Of course, just yesterday I posted on John Gibson’s non-apology “apology,”
so I guess we’re even ;-)

Seriosly, there’s a lot of educatin’ to do on both sides, sadly.

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