Will black Obama supporters defeat marriage equality in states like Maryland in November?

President Barack Obama

The Maryland Senate voted 25-22 today to legalize same-sex marriage, and the bill now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, who will sign it. However, the new law won’t take effect until January, which allows opponents to put a referendum on the ballot in November if they can gather 55,736 signatures.

Meanwhile, in Maine, the secretary of state has confirmed enough valid signatures from same-sex marriage supporters to get the issue on the November ballot. In 2009, Maine voters rejected marriage equality by 53 percent to 47 percent, but polls show a majority now support it.

In any case, it now appears almost certain that marriage equality will be on the ballot in at least a handful of states this year. And gay activist John Aravosis at Americablog says that’s why it’s critical for President Barack Obama to hurry up and complete his evolution on the issue:

The President obviously wants us all to get out the vote in November. But there are key constituencies with whom the President has great sway, and who are not terribly good on gay rights issues as compared to other Democrats. Why does that matter?  Well, take Maryland.  Maryland will likely see an effort on the November ballot to repeal the just-passed marriage equality legislation.  Nearly a third of Marylanders are African-American.  And black Democrats in Maryland are twice as opposed to same-sex marriage as white Democrats in the state.

—  John Wright

Marriage support from an unexpected source

Vice President Dick Cheney

One former Dallas resident not usually known for his liberal positions is lobbying legislators in Maryland to support marriage equality.

The Baltimore Sun reports that Dick Cheney — yes, that Dick Cheney, the former Vice President — is lending his support to passage of a bill sponsored by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley. The Cheneys now live in Maryland.

Cheney’s daughter is lesbian, and he has always supported her and her relationship with partner Heather Poe. But by taking a position in favor of marriage equality he’s taking a position more liberal than that of Presidents Barack Obama or Bill Clinton. Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act that allows states to not recognize marriage performed by other states.

Also lobbying Maryland lawmakers is New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who worked for passage of the New York state law last year.

In other marriage news, marriage equality passed the New Jersey Assembly and was forwarded to Gov. Chris Christie, who promptly vetoed it. Supporters have until the end of the legislative session in January 2014 to override.

—  David Taffet

Md. guv responds to wife’s remark on gay marriage

Gov. Martin O'Malley

First lady called opponents of equality ‘cowards’

BRIAN WITTE  |  Associated Press

BALTIMORE — Gov. Martin O’Malley sought to smooth over any raw feelings in Annapolis after his wife referred to opponents of gay marriage as “cowards,” saying Sunday that words of compassion, understanding and justice are needed in the debate.

O’Malley, a Democrat who has made same-sex marriage legislation a priority this year, closed out his remarks at the 24th National Conference on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equality by underscoring the need for using compassionate rhetoric. The governor said it’s important not to let passionate views prompt people to use “words of hurt, rather than words of healing.”

“Laws matter, but words also matter, and if compassion and understanding and justice are what we want, then we must choose laws and we must choose words of compassion, understanding and of justice,” O’Malley said.

First Lady Katie O’Malley, while giving a welcoming speech at the conference on Thursday night, said “there were some cowards that prevented it from passing” in a reference to last year’s failure of gay marriage legislation. She issued a statement Friday morning saying she regretted the comment, which was not received well by some lawmakers in Annapolis the next day.

A same-sex marriage bill passed the state Senate last year, but stalled in the House of Delegates.

O’Malley, speaking to reporters after his speech, confirmed that his remarks were made with his wife’s comments in mind.

“I love my wife very, very much, and for the last 20 years she has done the very difficult job of balancing a host of responsibilities and doing it very, very well, and none of us speak perfectly, and sometimes we make mistakes, and she’s had the humility and the strength to apologize for the mistake that she made in her choice of words,” O’Malley said.

The governor also said he thinks his wife, who is a Baltimore District Court judge, feels “very badly” about the comment.

Despite the controversy, the governor, who has reshaped the bill this year to more carefully address concerns about religious freedom, said he believes momentum is growing for the legislation.

“I think there is a much broader coalition in support this year,” O’Malley said. “I think as we progress, more and more people appreciate that the protection of individual rights and the protection of religious freedom are intertwined, and they are part of the effort that all of us share to reflect in our laws a more perfect union.”

A rally of people who oppose same-sex marriage is scheduled for Monday in Annapolis. A hearing on the legislation is scheduled for Tuesday.

—  John Wright

Maryland House sends marriage bill back to committee; no word on what happens next

After three hours of debate on a bill that would have legalized same-sex marriage in the state, Maryland House of Delegates Chairman Del. Joseph Vallario today sent the Civil Marriage Protection Act back to the House’s Judiciary Committee.

The move came during the final reading of the bill. Delegates were expected to vote on the measure today. Supporters were sure of getting only 69 ot 70 of the 71 votes the bill needed to pass in the House. It has already passed in the Senate, and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he will sign it into law if it reaches his desk.

Immediately after the bill was sent back to committee, the LGBT rights organization Equality Maryland sent out a press release containing statements attributed to “the staff and board of Equality Maryland; Morgan Meneses-Sheets, executive director, and Charles Butler, board president,” saying that while they are disappointed the House did not pass the measure today, “we are confident we will win in the future.

“With so much at stake today for thousands of Maryland families, we are thankful that our legislative allies have taken such care with this vote. It is best to delay this historic vote until we are absolutely sure we have the votes to win. We look forward to working strategically with our amazing allies in the legislature, and our supporters across the state, to continue to build support for, and win, marriage equality in the Free State,” the Equality Maryland statement said.

I have seen no explanation yet of what happens now with the bill.

 

—  admin

Catholics For Equality urging support for marriage equality bill in Maryland

The Maryland House of Delegates is expected to take up consideration of the same-sex marriage bill there about 11 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time, I assume) on Friday, and according to Maryland Catholics for Equality, “out-of-state anti-gay calls are flooding Annapolis” to try and get the bill defeated.

So the organization is urging pro-equality Maryland residents to be sure and call their delegates to counteract the anti-gay forces.

In an e-mail that just hit my inbox, Maryland Catholics for Equality say: “Call NOW and let your Delegates know three important things: you are an actual constituent (not out of state), you are Catholic, and that you stand with the majority of Catholics in Maryland in support of HB175 — Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. Ask them not to bow down to out of state pressure.”

The measure has already passed the Maryland Senate and Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he will sign the bill into law if it reaches his desk. But things are close in the House of Delegates, where the bill was initially expected to pass easily.

If you aren’t a resident of Maryland, don’t cheat by calling the delegates and saying you are. But keep an eye on Instant Tea tomorrow, and we’ll let you know what happens.

—  admin

UPDATE: Gay marriage bill gets final approval in Maryland Senate

We told you yesterday that the Maryland Senate had given preliminary approval to legislation giving legal recognition to same-sex marriage in that state. Now comes word from GayPolitics.com that the Senate has given final approval to the measure. The final vote, just like the preliminary vote, was 25-21, according to NPR.

The bill now heads to the Maryland House of Delegates and if it is approved there, it will go to Gov. Martin O’Malley who must sign it before it becomes law. If that happens, it will make Maryland the sixth U.S. state to recognize gay marriage.

—  admin