Monday, January 28, 2008

Maryland Push

A blogger at Pam's House Blend has the scoop on the recently introduced bill in my home state to legalize same sex marriage. Counting the number of sponsors, The Baltimore Sun calls its prospects for passage "uncertain." One problem is that, despite Maryland's liberal tint, the leadership is lukewarm to the bill at best. "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." Moreover, especially up in Baltimore, the Catholic church is very influential among liberal legislators, which complicates efforts significantly.

But that doesn't mean the bill is doomed. For one, any state that has the type of legislative skew Maryland has towards Democrats is reasonably favorable terrain. For two, Maryland voters are far more open to gay marriage than those of most states. 44% favor changing the law to allow gay marriage, while 51% oppose a change. Importantly, 59% of White Marylanders are in favor of the change. This matters because Black Democrats in the legislature are probably at least somewhat to the left of their constituents on this issue. That doesn't mean they're guaranteed allies, but it does mean they're probably persuadable. Finally, even though he opposes both gay marriage and civil unions, Senator Miller at least has apparently promised not to whip his caucus on this issue, making it far easier for pro-equality forces than if the leadership was proactively working against them.

Ultimately, this is a tough fight, but a fight we can win. Maryland stands on the cusp of becoming the first state to legalize gay marriage without any judicial prompting whatsoever. It would be a proud day for my state, and I hope that we see it soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

probligo.blogspot.comFrom the NZ experience with civil unions, I would guess that you have much to worry about.... ;)

"There were 21,500 resident marriages registered in New Zealand during the December 2006 year.

There were 2,000 marriages registered to overseas residents in 2006.

The general marriage rate was 13.5 marriages per 1,000 not-married population aged 16 years and over in 2006.

There were 397 resident civil unions registered in 2006, of which 80 percent were same-sex unions.

There were 10,100 orders for dissolution of marriage granted in New Zealand during the December 2006 year.

The divorce rate in 2006 was 12.5 divorces per 1,000 estimated existing marriages. "