When the gays attack, it might just be over for you in Democratic politics, or maybe not. It might be worth noticing that the platform of the Democratic National Convention does not call for gay marriage. In fact the 2008 platform doesn’t mention gay or lesbian couples at all. That might be in stark contrast to some liberals who profess that gay marriage is a key party principal.
This week the Maryland House of Delegates voted to advance gay marriage in a bill that after a brief stop in the Senate, and on the Governor’s desk, is destined for a public vote, possibly as soon as this November. With knowledge of these facts a few delegates, Aisha Braveboy and Tiffany Alston of Prince George’s, Sam Arora of Montgomery County and others, pushed to end the debate, pass the bill, but send it directly to a public ballot. NO, was the answer they got from the uncompromising liberal wing of the party that on far too much legislation, dominates Annapolis. That maybe the mistake they can’t overcome in just a few weeks.
“I just cannot understand why, if you know a matter is going to the ballot, we don’t just send it ourselves,” said a senior Democrat in the House of Delegates who voted no on final passage. “We knew that if we passed a slots package, it would likely go to the ballot, but we know that this bill will be sent to the voters and what we could do is stop the guessing game and do it ourselves.” That idea was outright rejected by house leaders and gay marriage supporters saying that just like civil rights of blacks, these rights should not be put up for a public vote. Problem is they will, we know they will, and adding that amendment to this bill would have likely boosted the number of Yea votes among representatives from the communities that will determine if the historic legislation stands the test of time, or is just a temporary celebration doomed for defeat.
Gay Marriage advocates play dangerous game of blacklisting
Last year after the gay marriage legislation unsuspectingly went down on the floor of the House of Delegates, leaders in the movement reacted in the way that everyone expected. Equality Maryland, the leading gay rights group in the state at the time, was overruled on strategy by the national outside group the Human Rights Campaign. The decision to pull the bill from the floor before it went down in defeat caused so much drama at Equality Maryland that half of the Board of Directors resigned, the Executive Director was fired, and before the end of the year the entire organization was being reorganized. Leaders of the movement in the house such as Delegate Heather Mizeur and First Lady Katie O’Malley lashed out at black church leaders and delegates from Prince George’s County, and this year has been no different.
Once the vote count was clear supporters of gay marriage didn’t turn their attention to how they would defend the legislation from a public that appears split on the issue, they instead focused like a laser on defeating Delegate Sam Arora of Montgomery County as punishment for his nay vote. Arora, who is not up for reelection until 2014, two full years after the measure might meet defeat this November, is the only delegate from the county to vote against gay marriage. Arora’s sudden opposition to gay marriage does have to come as a shock to the more liberal (not necessarily progressive) Montgomery County but the backlash has many throughout the state thinking it only plays into the storyline about the out-of-control liberals who are much less interested in building consensus around social change than they are at forcing it on a population not ready or willing to accept it.
Clearly gay marriage is coming to America, the timing on when it and how it comes is the debate the people are having today. This generation, much unlike the generation of the civil rights movement, has many very democratic tools to stall this social change and like it or not, government officials should stop trying to prevent the usage of those tools. This sense of direct democracy is promoted by the Democratic Party on when they desire, like the recall of GOP governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin, but rejected on issues they hold close. It is time we all stop trying to have our cake and eat it too. This is a time for advocates on both sides, for gay marriage and against it, to reach out to voters throughout Maryland and make their case. Legislators cannot continue to ask for public input and involvement but reject it on the issues where the public might disagree with them. This is a matter for the ballot box.