Friday, February 06, 2009

How Liberal Is Maryland?

Well, according to Cook's PVI, it is the fifth most liberal state in the country (behind DC, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island). But that's not all! My home district, the 8th, is rated D+20 ... which makes it only the third most Democratic district in the state (MD-04, D+30; MD-07, D+25). Even Massachusetts has only one district bluer than that.


Chris Meyer said...

And yet you don't have marriage equality. Not even civil unions. Nay, not even domestic partnerships.

I think the political affiliation of your state highlights just how pathetic its achievements are. I mean I'm not expecting anything amazing from South Dakota anytime soon (although we voted down the abortion ban (twice!)!), but for y'all, I'm just disappointed.

Jack said...

The relevant demographics for passing a gay marriage/ civil union bill ARE NOT party affiliation. Maryland Democrats are about 50% African American which tends to mean more religious and traditionalist than Democrats in, say, Vermont. We were really lucky to avoid a marriage ban referendum. The gay marriage issue is way more about religion than party.

Chris Meyer said...

Yep. Which is another way of saying "not so liberal," at least according to the primary criterion I would assign. Although I am, being homosexual, admittedly biased in my prioritization.

Matthew C said...

I agree with Chris (though I share his bias).

Liberalism as a political philosophy has to do with the willingness to protect social and political liberties and the belief in the autonomy of citizens. Jack's defense implies that Maryland actually as an unusually high number of illiberal Democrats. Maybe David's figures establish that there are lots of Marylanders who like to vote en masse for the Democratic party, but if doing so doesn't make them any less hostile towards the idea of civil equality for people whose behavior they disapprove of, well, why are we proud of this again?

Jack said...

So I don't actually think this is a major issue. My defense of Maryland isn't a defense of its marriage/civil union laws but a defense of Maryland progressives. If liberal is defined by either church attendance, as Chris suggested, or support for social and political liberties as Matthew suggests and has nothing to do with support for New Deal-type economic policy then Maryland is not a particularly liberal state outside of a small pocket in Montgomery County. Consider the following chart:

Maryland is just below the nationwide average with 41% attending weekly or more. Thats a higher percentage than liberal bastions such as Montana, Arizona and Wyoming. You'll note that California is the seventh least religious state in the union and Oregon is the 8th... both states with homophobia and prejudice written into their constitutions. Maryland does not have civil unions as such they have a system of domestic partnership which grants a number of civil union rights- hospital visitation, funeral planning, etc. Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada are all less religious than Maryland and lack this enumeration of rights.

Now don't think I'm in anyway saying that the status quo is ideal or that you should stop complaining and shut up. Obviously, and particularly so from your perspectives, Maryland's laws are wholly inadequate and unfair. But it isn't fair to say that Maryland's achievements are pathetic- considering its relative religiousness progressive Marylanders have done a much better job of promoting marriage equality than most states. It is easy to be pessimistic and if you think progress in the gay rights movement IN GENERAL has been pathetic than I would disagree but not blame you for thinking that way (it's easy for me to see the successes when the injustice is toward my friends, not me)... but if this is the case than Maryland is definitely not UNIQUELY pathetic.

And so goes my defense of an abstract entity to which I have basically no allegiance whatsoever ;-)