Arora Goes Clintonian

Jim Burroway

March 4th, 2011

It looks like Maryland delegate Sam Arora got an earful after he tried to pull an Arora yesterday, in which he pulled back his support for a bill allowing marriage Equality that is making its way through Maryland’s lower house. Until this week, he had not only co-sponsored the bill, but campaigned (and accepted campaign donations) on the promise that he would support marriage equality. Then he announced that he would screw his LGBT and LGBT-supportive constituents who helped get him elected by voting no on the measure. Then today, we get this:

I have heard from constituents, friends, and advocates from across the spectrum of views and have thought about the issue of same-sex marriage extensively. I understand their concern—this is a very serious issue, and one that many people feel passionately about. As the vote drew nearer, I wrestled with this issue in a way I never had before, which led me to realize that I had some concerns about the bill. While I personally believe that Maryland should extend civil rights to same-sex couples through civil unions, I have come to the conclusion that this issue has such impact on the people of Maryland that they should have a direct say. I will vote to send the bill to the floor because it deserves an up-or-down vote. On the floor, I will vote to send the bill to the governor so that Marylanders can ultimately decide this issue at the polls. I think that is appropriate.

That has got to be the most convoluted mess of a statement I’ve ever seen. But the bottom line is that when Maryland’s House Judiciary committee finally voted to send the bill to the House floor, Arora voted yes.

As recently as February 21, Arora told his constituents that he passionately believed in marriage equality. According to Joe Sudbay, Arora was still privately speaking of his support for the bill as late as Sunday. But two days later, he started tweeting that he was walking back his support. Along the way, something or somebody definitely got to Arora.

So now, we have his yes vote — and yes, that part is with my thanks and with gratitude — along with this strange, disturbing, Clintonesque statement that continues to raise red flags. You remember what happened when President Bill Clinton went Clintonian on LGBT rights: we got DOMA and DADT. So now we have Arora trying to pull off the same thing. He is now against marriage equality, thinks we should have civil unions instead, and wants to get this bill to the governor as quickly as possible to NOM can gather signatures for a referendum so that our rights can be put up to a vote. Just so you know what he’s talking about, this is how that referendum process would work:

According to Maryland’s State Board of Elections, opponents of the marriage bill can start collecting signatures for a statewide referendum immediately after the passage of the bill in the House of Delegates, before Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signs the bill. A total of 55,736 signatures are required on the petition and must be submitted to Secretary of State John P. McDonough (D) by June 30. One third of those signatures are due on May 31.

This sets up a strange dynamic. The longer the House can delay the vote, the less time signature gatherers would have to collect signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. But the longer the House delays, the more time there is for Arora and others with a similar lack of integrity to change their minds and vote against the bill. You would think that with Democrats holding a 98-43 majority in the House, this should be an easy shot. But you would be wrong. Such is the moral cowardice of far too many Dems who were elected with LGBT support.

Chitown Kev

March 4th, 2011

Well, Awhora DID work for the Hillary Clinton campaign, right?


March 5th, 2011

Lack of leadership from the party.

He’s elected to make these decisions. He’s in a better position to do so, because the assembly is a deliberative body, that can take expert testimony, hold hearings, and presumably come up with better policy than ‘the mob’.

In NJ, there was plenty of moral cowardice on display. Strangely, the Senate Dems seemed (to me) to be aware of their own cowardice and voted pretty solidly against the motion to put the question on the ballot, saying, “I believe we’re elected to make these decisions.”

Perhaps they were feeling guilty. Who knows.

But, I get the sense that some people have “last minute” reservations that are stoked by our opponent’s campaign. Some of them might be religious, others not.

In terms of crafting an influential campaign, sometimes it seems like more could be done to address known, specific reservations that might come up, early, because it is too late during the heat of the battle, it seems.

At other times, I’m of the opinion, ‘For chissakes, Julian Bond! What MORE do you need to be convinced?!!’


March 5th, 2011

I have a question:

As long as they are legislating, can Dems do something about national organizations that are not in compliance with other state’s election laws?

It might be possible to do something, without drastic changes, by putting up additional enforcement actions in the event that the AG finds, say, “pattern of willful refusal to comply”.

Assuming that a certain national organization would contest that and argue against a stay in State Court, legislators could make it possible for a court to hold off any “relevant” state ballot measure, while “significant” appeals are pending in Federal court. That way the fix is this: if you don’t want to accept a stay on your activities because your participation in the political campaign for the ballot measure is critical to its electoral success, then you have to give up the putting the measure on the ballot (even if someone else are the on-paper proponents) during the appeals process (to avoid the potential to defraud the voters of information they would need to make an informed decision, i.e. the intent of the election law on disclosures).

Wadda u think?


March 5th, 2011

“can Dems do something” s/b “can Maryland Dems do something”


March 5th, 2011

I wish you’d leave Bill Clinton out of it.

“You remember what happened when President Bill Clinton went Clintonian on LGBT rights: we got DOMA and DADT”

Clinton fought for gay rights more than any president in the history of the US. He created quite a lot of enemies because of it. Do not misrepresent his record. The Republicans crucified him for trying to attain equality for GLBT people and the Democrats did not support him. The best he got was DADT; yes that was an improvement!

Obama isn’t doing crap towards GLBT equality. Bill Clinton did, he fought for your rights and you slam him for it. Ungrateful!

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2011

You seem to have forgotten that Clinton not only signed DOMA into law, he bought commercial time on Christian talk radio to brag about his promotion of “family values.” Damn right I’m ungrateful for that.

Priya Lynn

March 5th, 2011

I’d say that to this point Clinton and Obama have done about the same amount towards LGBT equality. They’re both bigots (although Clinton may have changed) and haven’t worked towards full equality but they both achieved at least a little in that direction.


March 5th, 2011

Lynn, what?! Clinton and the Democratic congress at the time instituted DADT. Obama and the Democratic congress repealed it. Clinton and the Republican congress enacted DOMA. Obama decried it and refuses to defend it. (Obviously, there’s no chance of repeal, now). How is that “the same “, or even close? And what else can Obama do for gay citizens? He can’t snap his fingers and get rid of DOMA or enact ENDA. There’s literally nothing more he can do for gay rights than he’s doing now.

Priya Lynn

March 5th, 2011

Ryan back then DADT was an improvement for gay rights. Prior to that gays couldn’t serve at all. But perhaps you’re right, Obama has done more. I was mainly disagreeing with Truthteller who said “Obama isn’t doing crap towards GLBT equality. Bill Clinton did, he fought for your rights and you slam him for it.”.

Priya Lynn

March 5th, 2011

One other thing Ryan. You asked what else Obama can do for gays. He can come out in favour of marriage equality and lead the country in that direction.


March 5th, 2011


Yes, president Clinton signed DOMA into law but Congress and the House passed it with a veto proof majority:

NAYS: 14

YEAS: 342
NAYS: 67

You act as though he wrote the law and as though he could have survived a veto. He could not and the best thing he could do was to sign it and survive to fight another day.

I clearly remember him talking about gay people as equals during the campaign and making a promise to repeal the law that made it illegal to be in the armed forces. Clinton kept his promise and made that a priority during his early presidency! He fought for us and was vilified and crucified for it when he could have pulled an Obama…and remember this was 16 years ago! He was a leader who risked his neck for our community.

I know it is fashionable to bash him and that is why I call you ungrateful! Whether you acknowledge it or not, it is because after 8 years of Reagan’s complete silence during the AIDS crisis, Bill Clinton speaking to the nation about the GLBT community and treating us like equals that contributed to our progress today. I am not saying he is totally responsible for where we are today, but I acknowledge that he contributed a lot to our cause and paid a great price for it. He led with his convictions where others take polls. As far as taking time on christian television, I don’t care about that; he did what he had to do, after the beating he took, in order to survive and fix the economy!

Where was the support for him then? And why does Clinton hate continue?


March 5th, 2011

“That has got to be the most convoluted mess of a statement I’ve ever seen. ”

Have you ever read a Sarah Palin position statement? I’d say his statement is more ‘Palinesque’ than Clintonian. Clinton was at least well spoken.


March 5th, 2011


What is Obama doing besides defending DOMA by comparing gays to pedophiles, having Donnie McClurkin on tour, reversing his stance of marriage equality, just to name three things at the top of my head; he says one thing and does another.


March 5th, 2011

I’m always willing to be shown that I am wrong, but I don’t remember Obama comparing gay people to pedophiles, and he has stopped defending DOMA (at least to some degree) Under his leadership we got DADT repealed, although we don’t know how long the republicans will let that go. I was upset about Donnie McClurkin, and several other things he has done, but overall I am slightly pleased with him.


March 5th, 2011

I find the gay animus toward Bill Clinton to be misguided at best and, in many cases, disingenuous.

It is largely due to Clinton’s efforts years ago that gays will soon be able to choose to serve openly in the military. Clinton campaigned on a promise to discontinue the ban on gays in the military – he didn’t change his mind about wanting that. But DADT or some such policy was a necessary intermediate step upward from an outright ban with aggressive investigations and dishonorable discharge. I have no doubt that Clinton did the best that could be done for gays on this issue at the time. No matter who raised the issue or when it was first raised, it would have been met by Sam Nunn and his cohorts countering with the threat of legislative entrenchment of an absolute ban. It’s lame to put the blame on Clinton for this one – remember, even Barney Frank voted in favor of the legislation that contained DADT.

DOMA also is not Clinton’s baby. He did not push DOMA, even if he was then in agreement with it. A politician must choose his or her battles, and DOMA was not one for gay advocates to engage in at that time – it passed Congress with 85% in both houses – it would have become law even if Clinton had opposed it and vetoed it.

So let’s be honest about it, and quit acting like Clinton set back the progress on gay equality.


March 5th, 2011

Is it at all possible this waffling and back and forth is specifically designed to delay passage of the bill to chip away at the possibility of a referendum?


March 5th, 2011

Mike, I read a while back that supporters in the MD House would delay their vote to the last minute for exactly the reason you describe, to decrease the time available for opponents to gather signatures for a referendum.

But that was back when they thought passage in the House would be easier than passage in the Senate. When they saw that House support was crumbling, they realized they didn’t have room for such maneuvers, and needed to work full out for all the time available.

Richard Rush

March 5th, 2011

As a person who first became aware of my homosexuality in the 1950s, I’m dismayed by some of the comments regarding Clinton. From my perspective he was a positive revelation.

I don’t think younger people today understand the nature of the total repression during those days (1950s/60s) and for many years after. As I recall there were no people speaking out against homosexuality like we see today, as it was unnecessary because virtually everyone apparently viewed homosexuality as the ultimate depravity. There was virtually total silence.

Then you might ask how did I know that society viewed it as the ultimate depravity if there was only silence. That’s a good question, and I don’t know the answer. There must be things I don’t remember. But somehow I knew absolutely that my attractions had to be my deep dark secret.

So, it seemed absolutely astonishing for a president (Clinton) to actively attempt to change the military policy on gays, even though the result was little different than before, except for the label. It was amazing to see homosexuals discussed at the highest levels of government and reported in the mainstream media as though we were almost human and that maybe our lives actually mattered a little bit.

Priya Lynn

March 5th, 2011

Truthteller, others have already mentioned this, but Obama ultimately decided not to defend DOMA, he helped repeal DADT, he saw the hate crimes law passed, he signed onto the international call for the decriminalization of gayness so while I agree that Clinton did things for gays so did Obama. Seems to me Clinton now supports full marriage equality so he’s a step ahead of Obama there.


March 5th, 2011

I think it’s much easier now for Clinton to support marriage equality now that there’s no chance at political fallout. See also: Dick Cheney. I don’t blame Clinton for signing DOMA or DADT; those were the political necessities at the time. I just think it’s odd to suggest that Obama is somehow behind Clinton on gay rights. And truthteller, you’re not really telling the truth. Obama never compared gays to pedophiles.

Jim Burroway

March 5th, 2011

(partial) “truthteller”.

You really need to reconsider your nickname, since this is not the first time you’ve had a very hard time handling the truth.

Clinton did not have to place his signature on DOMA, but he did anyway. And there is no justification whatsoever for his buying commerical time on Christian radio to brag about that fact that signed DOMA. You can pretend like that didn’t happen all you want, but it is precisely that action — trying to have it both ways — which is emblematic of what people mean when they say “Clintonesque.”

Arora is now trying to play all sides of the fence just like Clinton did. Regardless of whatever amends he’s made now that he’s out of office and has no influence on public policy, we were wrong to trust Clinton in 1996. And we would be idiots to think that Arora is trustworthy now, especially now that he’s trying to play to every conceivable side of the fence.


March 6th, 2011

We may come to wish that Arora had voted no. Losing in a narrow vote in a House committee would have had no repercussions for SSM generally. But if we lose the referendum, it will be an awful loss.

The current polling does not suggest that a win is likely. The most likely outcome – again based on the last few polls and keeping in mind the trends in both CA and ME – is a narrow loss in a range comparable to that in CA and ME. And I have yet to see any evidence that our side is preparing to do things differently this time. Accordingly, assuming that NOM hires Frank Schubert and runs the same campaign as it did in CA and ME, there is no good reason to believe that we will win.

The first big thing to look for is the polling/political consulting shop our side hires. This will be done well in advance of the campaign’s onset, since this is the outfit that is supposed to do polling and focus groups to determine what messages will work – precisely what we failed to do sufficiently well in the last 2 battles.

In both CA and ME, we used Greenberg Quinlan Rosner. They made a small fortune off of the 2 campaigns and in both they failed. Their polling was off, and more significantly, their message development – on both the offensive and defensive sides – failed. Their greatest success is having kept a low profile and avoided the criticism that hit other aspects of the losing campaigns.

If they get hired yet again, then we will know that this effort is more about patronage and sending gobs of money to friends of HRC and NGLTF, and less about winning.


March 6th, 2011

check out what is happening on Arora’s facebook page, with posts from someone calling themselves “John St. Michael”.

Various hate websites sprung up during the NJ fights. Some of the regular right-wing, local politics blogs published some vile stuff. [I took screenshots as part of the document-the-hate program, because it was plain these websites would be wiped the day after…]

Now, there is always someone, somewhere publishing fake research, studies, and drawing ugly ‘linkages’, but someone serious should perhaps try to measure the uptick in internet hate that comes to town with these legislative actions.

As I recall, the ADL had some resources devoted to monitoring internet hate. Although, as memory serves, they were focused on identifying groups, rather than, say, a thermometer-type reading.

What are others seeing as the ‘temperature’ in MD, right now?


March 6th, 2011


I did not expect personal insults from you. You wrote the post and you are also setting a nasty tone to this conversation.

You might want to read my posts carefully, and if you do, you will see that I did not deny Clinton signing DOMA or going on Christian television. I instead gave a clear explanation as to why I did not have a problem with it…that is very different.

This is what you say I wrote: “…And there is no justification whatsoever for his buying commerical time on Christian radio to brag about that fact that signed DOMA. You can pretend like that didn’t happen all you want,…”

This is what I wrote: “As far as taking time on christian television, I don’t care about that; he did what he had to do, after the beating he took, in order to survive and fix the economy!”

Then you write about me:

“You really need to reconsider your nickname, since this is not the first time you’ve had a very hard time handling the truth.”

You, Jim, really need to reconsider whether you want to lie about posters on this site. Do you have links to where I “couldn’t handle the truth”?

Accusations without proof cheapen the credibility of this site and you, as the author of this article, should be more careful and back up your assertions with proof!

I’m waiting for those links.

Ben in Oakland

March 6th, 2011

Theo, exactly what i have said over and over again.

They will run the same, stupid, losing, closeted campaign, and then say with a shrug of the shoulders…

oh, well. we did what we could. Please send money for next time.


March 6th, 2011

Priya Lynn,

Obama’s DOJ first defended DOMA by comparing gays to pedophiles, it is only after the polls are blowing in favor of marriage equality that he changes his mind and only about section 3, not all of DOMA.

Obama did sign the hate crimes law but he did not push for it. He has the support of the county and the military and he sits back and waits for others to do the work. When Clinton put his neck on the line for GLBT people the whole country, the generals, and the rank and file were against gays serving in the military. Clinton led and paid a high price for it.

Some people seem to think the culture of the nineties and 2011 is the same thing.

Priya Lynn

March 6th, 2011

Truthteller said “Obama’s DOJ first defended DOMA by comparing gays to pedophiles…”.

That’s something I would expect to really have stood out to me yet I remember no such thing. You want links from Jim, let’s see a link from you that backs up that claim.

It’s clear to me that both did some things to help the LGBT community although both have been less than fully ethical in their treatment of LGBTs


March 6th, 2011

Just a note, and this is from memory: Clinton got blindsided. He attempted to institute open service by executive order. Up until that time, the ban on gays in the military had been a matter of regs, not statute. It was just a few days after his inauguration that he announced the policy change to the Joint Chiefs, who promptly went haring of to Congress to lobby against the change. The result was DADT, which made open service by gays a matter of law.

Where I fault Clinton is not canning the entire Joint Chiefs.


March 6th, 2011

“truth”teller, Neither Obama or the DOJ at any time compared gays to pedophiles. What you’re probably referring to is the first DOMA defense in which the DOJ mentioned that certain states have the age of consent at 16 while others have it at 18. The DOJ mentioned that states with a legal age of consent of 16 could allow, say, a marriage between a man who is 18 and a girl who is 16, while other states had the right to not allow such marriages. They claimed this was valid precedence for states that ban gay marriage to not recognize gay marriage performed in states that do allow it. Extremely strident website like Americablog wrongly and embarassingly claimed that this amounted to Obama comparing gays to “pedophilia.” This is incredibly stupid, as legal consensual sexual relations with 16 year olds are not in any way considered pedophilia by anyone anywhere. Please stop making stuff up.

Richard Rush

March 6th, 2011


This is NOT intended as a comment on your truthfulness, but is merely a suggestion:

Consider giving some thought to changing your screen-name to one that does not contain the word “truth.” My anecdotal observations have repeatedly shown that there is an inverse relationship between the frequency that persons/organizations proclaim they are a source of truth and the frequency that they are actually a source of truth. And when the word “truth” is part of an organizations name, the inverse relationship usually reaches the ultimate extreme. Think Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, or the common reference to “Biblical truth.” This is also why I rolled my eyes when Wayne Besen named his organization Truth Wins Out (but then I understood that it was a response to all the anti-gays who proclaim they have the truth). Take a look at these Google search results using the words “homosexuality” and “truth:”

Jim Burroway

March 6th, 2011

Well now, “—–teller”:

Not true:

Not true:

And that non-truth is repeated here:

Obama’s DOJ has never compared gay people to pedophiles. We’ve been through this before. I know that there are people out there who want to give Obama zero credit and demonize him at every turn, but the ACTUAL FACTS for that charge do not support it.

There is simply no comparison to pedophilia.

Meanwhile, you like to paint Clinton as someone who walked on water for gay people, despite the fact that he signed DOMA that he had no need to sign whatsoever, and paid money to brag about it with Christians. You keep ignoring it. I guess it’s too much truth for you to handle. As for me, I would never tolerate someone backstabbing me like that. Not then, not now (hence, this post about Arora).


March 6th, 2011

I don’t know if you can do anything about it, but an add to sign Michelle Bachman’s pledge to defend traditional marriage just popped up here for me.

Richard Rush

March 6th, 2011

Boo, I know those ads seem annoying, but remember, every time someone clicks on an ad, BTB earns a little money from the ad-source. Think about it.

Mark F.

March 7th, 2011


How is that DNC job going? Or are you Clinton’s personal assistant now?


March 7th, 2011

hunter, just to clear up an inaccuracy, so that others don’t get mis-informed. The ban on gays was indeed statutory before the imposition of DADT. “Somdomy” is (and will continue to be) a statutory part of the UCMJ. That is/was the basis for the regulations – homosexuality was a conduct offense.

2-cents on the rest:

Leadership or no-lead, the important take-away is not to underestimate the resistance to pro-gay initiatives, either now or back then.

There are/were very few gay rights victories that were a cake-walk. Even the court fights, which are in a sense easier to “manage”/”control”, created backlash, some of it highly significant.

Timothy Kincaid

March 7th, 2011

To compare where a former president is on an issue to the man in the White House is not particularly informative. By that standard, Gerald Ford was our most pro-gay President ever, as he is the only former President to ever officially join a pro-gay activist group (Republican Unity Coalition – a sort of political gay-straight alliance). And he was, to the best of my knowledge, the first former president to support marriage equality (within his church – and most can’t even support civil marriage).

What position one takes after the office has less tangible impact and is of less importance. It also contains more idealism and less political pragmatism than a sitting president can afford. So that is not a useful tool for measurement.

Rather we have to look at their record in office. And here is where the debate becomes meaningless.

Because the truth is that over the past 30 years of so, each President’s administration has been more supportive – or at least less hostile – than the last.

Those who don’t like Reagan* will still have to accept that his administration’s attitude towards gay individuals was better than Carter’s 1970’s Southern Baptist sensibilities (though that may not be consistent with the alternate history created in the minds of the producers of TV docu-dramas). Under Reagan, it became politically acceptable to have known gay friends and even have a gay couple sleep over in the White House. (Amusingly when today’s Reagan-haters can’t find the homophobic language that they are sure he spouted will decide that he must have been more anti-gay in private when actually those who know him say the opposite was true.)

Bush Senior was a bit better than Reagan and was probably the first president to acknowledge gay people as a community. Barbara’s candle in the window for AIDS activism did step up the extent to which heartland Americans could empathize.

Clinton was worlds better. But flawed and still subject to a culture that was deeply homophobic. He campaigned and probably wanted to move our rights forward – or some of them – but he also was Bill Clinton.

George W Bush* at times felt like a step back, but most of that was not really in comparison to Clinton. Bush started off by putting a gay man in charge of his transition team and appointing a gay ambassador. Bush can be credited with advancing the idea that being gay, in and of itself, should no longer be a political liability amongst conservatives. And while Bush actually campaigned for office using his opposition to our marriage rights (as had Clinton) he was the first to speak of finding a way to accommodate couples. And many will find his endeavor to take on AIDS with a budget that surprised everyone to be a factor that weighs in his favor.

And obviously Obama is worlds more supportive than Bush.

But these changes are less indicative of the attitudes or advocacy of these men than it is a reflection of social change. On issues of gay rights, society has advanced tremendously over the past decades and a president that could not afford to endorse some measure of couple recognition at the time of Jimmy Carter cannot now afford not to.

It’s fair to note that some presidents were more inclined to lag behind change while others sought to advance it. “He should have” discussions which take time and culture into consideration may be of relevance (provided they include a full record), but impassioned direct comparison seems a bit pointless.

It may be interesting to discuss how one president may have done better or worse in place of another but ultimately it is unknowable. The more interesting discussion is the movement in culture that allowed/forced the nation’s leader at the time to move forward.

* – (Yes, I know that I spent more time on Reagan and Dubya, but they are the one’s most presumed to be a step backwards when in reality they were probably simply not as big of a step forward as others might have been)


March 7th, 2011

In response to the question posed by Amicus: “What are others seeing as the ‘temperature’ in MD, right now?”

As a resident of MD, it is my feeling that if the marriage law goes to public referendum, it will lose. With the opposition of the Catholic hierarchy and the leaders of the Black Protestant churches (especially in Prince George’s County and in Baltimore City)the effort will succeed. There would not be enough supporters in stalwart Mongtomery County and perhaps in Howard County to offset the effectiveness of what we here in Montgomery County call the “Shower Nuts” (the group who almost succeeded in reversing an anti-Transgender Rights law passed in M.C.). The same fear tactics, lies, and ugly attacks aimed at the GLBT community in Maryland will resonate throughout the rest of conservative Maryland. This is the kind of issue that will get out the vote in our, shall we say charitably, less educated citizenry in the state. Progressives will, as usual, take winning for granted.


March 7th, 2011

Why were my last two post deleted?

I suppose that’s one way to “win” an argument, just delete the posts you don’t agree with and leave yours up to make it seem as though you are right and the poster didn’t have a valid response.

Shame! I guess is time to dedicate my time to towleroad.

Jim Burroway

March 7th, 2011


Only one was deleted for massive ad hominen attacks. There you go again.

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Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.

Daniel Fetty Doesn’t Count

Daniel FettyThe FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.