Gay marriage one step closer to referendum

Update: The vote on HB438 is available here. As it turned out, one Republican (Delegate Robert Costa) voted in favor of the bill while five Democrats (Donoghue, Vallario, Alston, Kelly, and Valentino-Smith) voted against.

And now I see the strategy in going to two committees. Had the bill simply gone to the Judiciary Committee it would have been defeated on an 11-10 vote. It’s sort of a crock that it only passed one of the two committees yet still advances but that’s the way the rules go. Hopefully someday we can use them to our advantage.

By the way, Mike McDermott indeed voted no.


Giving gay couples their own version of a Valentine’s Day gift, published reports indicate the same-sex marriage bill (HB438) passed a joint session of the House Judiciary and Health and Government Operations committees by a 25-18 vote. This move was a little unusual, as a similar bill only went through the Judiciary Committee last year and passed that committee by a 12-10 vote. Last year was the first time that a gay marriage bill, which has been introduced five sessions in a row, proceeded past the hearing stage.

There’s no question that if this bill passes we will see it placed to referendum – if the courts allow it – but there’s no guarantee it would be upheld by the voters. While a January Gonzales Poll found the electorate slightly favored gay marriage by a 49-47 margin, the ones who strongly oppose the measure outnumber the strong supporters by a 38-34 margin. The intent of this piece is to consider the effects on this year’s election.

While this bill has strong and principled opposition those who favor gay marriage tend to have demographics on their side, as younger voters don’t stand for morality and traditional custom as much as their elders do. A generation ago, this bill would have been unthinkable but the small minority who would actually take advantage of this has also been the squeaky wheel that got the grease. At some point, Maryland is going to pass this bill, but it makes a big difference whether the bill is passed in 2012 or 2013/2014.

Let’s say the fifth time is the charm and the measure is passed this session. There’s a very good certainty that this bill would attract the 55,000 or so signatures to place it to referendum, even under a threat of tactics such as those exhibited during the Proposition 8 fight in California, and be placed on the 2012 ballot.

Because this is a federal election year, the ballot in Maryland will generally consist of only a few key races: President, one U.S. Senate seat, and the Congressional representative of a particular region. Certain areas also elect a handful of county offices, mostly for elected school boards.

The 2011 petition drive, however, placed the question of allowing in-state tuition for illegal aliens on the ballot, which has the potential to bring out conservative voters in larger numbers. (The Gonzales Poll I cited also discussed the Maryland DREAM Act: while the two sides are in a statistical tie overall – just like the gay marriage issue – the strongly opposed far outnumber the strongly in favor by a 37-21 margin.) Therefore, while the turnout will be higher for this election, it may not be in the best interest of gay marriage proponents to be on the same ballot with the DREAM Act. Otherwise, these issues could result in a possible upset or two on the downballot races for Congress and the U.S. Senate because conservatives will turn out in droves for these issues regardless of Maryland’s prospects for supporting the failed policies of Barack Obama.

On the other hand, let’s say the measure is defeated this year but manages to get over the hump in 2013 or 2014. Those who are passionately against the issue will again place the bill into referendum, but the dynamics of the election would be far different. Those who actually voted for or against the bill could be on the ballot at the same time, and while voters aren’t known for having long memories this would remind them of how their particular legislator voted on the issue and perhaps help sway the electorate one way or the other.

A 2013 passage would be a little better in that respect, as time has a way of healing those wounds. Moreover, there’s likely to be a lot of turnover in the Maryland General Assembly anyway because 2014 will be the first election after the gerrymandering of districts around the state. (By the way, this issue is taking time away from consideration of any other legislative plans – if no plan emerges from the General Assembly by the end of this month, the lines Governor O’Malley drew would be the official ones, pending any court challenges of course.) A number of Democratic seats will also be opening up as the leapfrogging of elected officials to higher positions will begin with the potential scrum for the Governor’s race, which could open up other statewide offices as well. A 2014 ballot placement would probably maintain the status quo in the General Assembly and maintain the governorship for whichever Democrat wins their primary since heavily Democratic areas would likely turn out to support the bill while heavily Republican areas go against it – we know how that usually works in Maryland. Those who are passionately on one side or the other don’t tend to be unaffiliated voters and gay marriage wouldn’t be sharing the spotlight with another contentious ballot issue.

Whether it goes on the ballot in 2012 or not, you can be sure that the floor votes will be scored as part of the monoblogue Accountability Project. If I get too vindictive I might double up and add the committee votes as well, since almost 1/3 of the House of Delegates voted on the bill in committee, too.

Assuming I can get a hold of the committee votes tomorrow I will update you on who voted which way. Only one local Delegate had a vote on this and I’m 99.9% sure Mike McDermott would have been against moving the bill forward based on his remarks. It sound like the Republicans held firm, but unfortunately there’s only around 7 on each committee out of 22 or so total.

Valentine’s Day might be one to remember for Adam and Steve.

20 thoughts on “Gay marriage one step closer to referendum”

  1. “younger voters don’t stand for morality and traditional custom as much as their elders do. ”

    Allow me to translate: younger voters don’t stand for inequality as much as their elders do.

    For a small government guy, your hypocrisy in this area is astounding. Government should stay out of your wallet, but by God it better get in the sheets! You all sound like the last bastion of the anti-civil rights movement in the South, and you will go down in the history books the exact same way. Fortunately, the general turn of history in America has been towards greater equality, not less. You are free to think gay people should not marry. Your church is free to not marry gay people. You are free to be convinced that gay people will burn in hell but that Britney Spears will not. You are not free (or soon will not be) to decide that some people are more equal than others in the eyes of the government.

  2. I suspect the voters will soon decide that, unless the state figures out a legal way to avoid a referendum.

    My stance is, and has always been, that the government shouldn’t legislate morality. But it shouldn’t legislate immorality, either. Nor should the gay-rights movement be equated with the civil rights movement because one can’t help what skin color he or she has, but until you can prove to me there’s a ‘gay gene’ I believe that being gay is behavior-based.

    If there’s anything the LGBT movement should be equated to, it would be religion. It’s sort of ironic that the radical homosexual movement equates with Islam in that no other viewpoint is acceptable unless you pay a toll to them to continue your existence as a second-class citizen. Interesting how so many cater and cower to that small minority.

    And your translation is wrong, the phrase you cite is exactly what I meant. No translation is needed or acceptable.

  3. Oh, ok. Because Michael Swartz believes something, it is demonstrably true. Good thing we don’t need to mess around with professionals! Prove to me there is a God or all of your arguments about immorality are nonense. Prove it to my satisfaction. See how easy that is?

    You see no irony in arguing that you are a second-class citizen because you are straight? Really? Please explain to me which rights and privileges you do not have under the Constitution because you are straight. Give me one. I will be happy to explain to you the unequal use of tax dollars of gay people who are prevented by law from joining Kim Kardashian in the sacred institution of marriage. Social Security benefits, anyone?

    You have huge, huge blinders on this one. Allowing gay people to get married does not “legislate immorality.” I know you think you speak for all religions and all religious groups as if there were a single version of morality, apparently, but you don’t. You want a theocracy? Then go all the way. You don’t get to choose where in the government religious rules (of some part of some religions) will apply, and where they won’t. You want the government to enforce morality? Do it. Let’s start with unmarried people (straight or gay) sleeping together. Immoral by the exact same document you are using to judge immorality, right? I have a strange feeling that one hits a little closer to home for you, though, so we won’t let government legislate on that one. Adultery? Still a crime on the books in many states. Let’s throw them in jail! Pick and choose.

    Love the “they should just hide it, after all, they aren’t black” argument. Equal protection under the law, except if you are gay. Pathetic. You are on the wrong side of history on this one, and it isn’t even a close call.

  4. All right, I’ve approved your comment and your bloviating on and on about “rights” and “enforcing morality.”

    As I said before, being gay/lesbian is a choice, and with that choice comes certain advantages and disadvantages. At this time, one of the disadvantages of being gay is the fact one can’t marry, at least not in Maryland. That’s the choice they have to live with.

    I also believe that I said the government should not legislate morality, or in the case of gay marriage, immorality. I honestly don’t care who someone sleeps with, and the government shouldn’t either. But sleeping with someone and having the “benefits” of marriage (most of which are also available to same-sex couples through alternate means) are two different things. If you want to have a civil union, knock yourself out. But to me (and the state of Maryland under current law) marriage is between a man and a woman, and that’s the way it should stay. The line in the sand needs to be drawn.

    No one has a “right” to get married; luckily we’re not a culture where arranged marriages are common either.

    Now, besides the fact that you’re not willing to sign your name to your statements (as opposed to me putting out these views, which I’m not afraid to stand behind in front of God and everybody), where do you set the new boundaries if gay marriage is accepted?

    Should we be able to marry our next of kin? How about children? Or is polygamy acceptable – after all, there are some religious sects who practice this? Some people love their pets, so should we allow them to be married?

    I can almost guarantee what you will argue – “but, but, but…those are beings which don’t have rational thought or the maturity to make such a decision.” In the instance of children or pets I certainly agree. But there’s a reason I bring this element into the conversation.

    Over the last few decades we have embarked on a grand social experiment the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan called “defining deviancy down.” While Moynihan placed it in the terms of crime, births to single mothers, and the mentally ill, I believe the same is happening in the public arena when it comes to the homosexual and alternative sexual lifestyle movement.

    It’s not about “rights” and you know it. It’s about forcing acceptance of what many, particularly in the religious community, consider a deviant lifestyle.

  5. No, really, it is about rights. You realize that the law is preventing churches that want to marry gay people from doing so, right? Kinda sounds like government intervention into a church decision.
    You so casually decide that this particular “lifestyle” (your words) is to be selected as especially awful, based on your religious views. But you cannot argue against the fact that the Bible makes no distinction between that sin and a sin regularly committed by straight people–sex outside marriage. It is exactly the same level of immorality. So how about we let the government pass laws to dissuade people from that action? After all, it is immoral, leads to the destruction of families, and sets a bad example for children. Men and women living together must prove they are married or be penalized. After all, it is a choice to sin by having sex outside marriage. And deviant. It is in society’s interest to stop it.

  6. Then how about a conservative argument for it Michael? I can think of at least a few.

    The argument from tradition:

    Marriage is a long-standing institution, one that predates government. As such its definition, which has varied in numerous ways at different times and in different places, is derived not from government, but fro society.

    Given this basic truth, the fact is that government is not giving anyone Marriages – it is simply recognizing a contractual relationship that it inaccurately terms marriage. And insofar as what is otherwise known as civil marriage is not truly a marriage but only a contractual relationship, government has the obligation to recognize such relationships as desired by all consenting adults, it can’t engage in arbitrary discrimination.

    The argument from Christianity:

    Once again, this relies on the point in the previous argument that civil marriage is not the same thing as the institution of Marriage but is in fact a government creation, a contractual arrangement the government recognizes, enforces, and grants special privileges to those engaged in.

    Now, once again, having established that, consider Christ’s words in Matthew 22:21 – “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and render unto God that which is God’s.”

    If civil marriage is a separate institution from Marriage and is in fact a creation of the state, then it seems pretty clear that we must understand Christ’s words in this context to mean that as it isn’t of God’s it should be decided upon the principles that rule government, not the strictures laid down by God. And once again, that leads us back to the point that it’s a generally acknowledged principle that government shouldn’t engage in arbitrary discrimination.

    The argument from the marketplace of ideas:

    Returning once again to the idea that Marriage is an institution of venerable history and that pre-exists the State and exists separately from it, the definition of it must necessarily derive from sources other than the government.

    That being the case, there is little chance, even if same-sex civil marriage were made legal, that people would confuse it with Marriage. More importantly, if the arguments against it are correct, as comparative institutions Marriage will be far superior to same-sex marriage and people will naturally give little weight to same-sex marriage as a legitimate institution if legal.

    Given all of that, why should Marriage need the government to bail it out in the marketplace of ideas instead of competing openly?

    And even if it weren’t the case, as a free market proponent, why should government be picking winners and losers in the marketplace of ideas?

  7. Did you decide that you were straight? Or were naturally attracted to women?

    While yes, I know of MANY people that are what we call “socially gay” (people that are only with same sex people because of drukeness or for attention), I know far more who were naturally attracted to the same sex.

    I know we have had this conversation of how the mothers environment and what she intakes can create a chemical reaction that slightly changes the fetus. I know I’ve also talked to you about genetics and how the baby is a boy per DNA but chemically, the body doesn’t have enough whatever to make that stick, and he feels like he is the wrong body.

    Personally, I hope they never find a gay gene. Then you open up a whole section of people who either will want designer children, or start having abortions or killing babies because they have the gay gene.

    This is all absurd. I certainly never chose to be bisexual. I’ve chosen to live my life with my male fiance, but it makes me no less bisexual. My gay best friend didnt choose to be gay. He naturally felt that way, and frequently considered suicide because he felt he was an abomination.

    I am less upset that gay marriage isn’t allowed (even though it really should be) but more by the pictures I see EVERY DAY of 1, 2, 3, 9 teens that have killed themselves because they are nothing but ridiculed for something they can’t help. That is FAR more horrible on the morality scale than allowing equal marriage ever will be. I’m disgusted that this country feels that it is necessary to berate and belittle people that are different from themselves.

    Don’t like gay people? Don’t date one. Don’t like gay marriage? Don’t marry one. Don’t want to have children? Then don’t (also immoral according to the Catholic Church).

  8. Well, Kevin, when the concept of ‘civil unions’ is dangled in front of those who favor gay marriage, many don’t want it. (My impression of a ‘civil union’ is that it would equal marriage in the eyes of the government.) This despite the fact more people in society at large are open to that idea.

    This is why I believe the idea isn’t one of having the benefits of marriage but instead imposing their sort of morality on society. That’s the key question at stake here.

  9. That’s why I think a lot of this is a push toward “acceptance” of that lifestyle. But I believe you hit one thing squarely on the head:

    Personally, I hope they never find a gay gene. Then you open up a whole section of people who either will want designer children, or start having abortions or killing babies because they have the gay gene.

    I know you’re no Rush Limbaugh fan, but I recall him saying something that made sense along that line: if they ever found a “gay gene” you would see the quickest shift from pro-choice to pro-life among a population you’d ever seen. Perhaps you never chose to be bisexual, but you chose to act upon that urge. The problem with saying that is that some people are attracted to having sex with children. Should they follow through on that urge?

    Perhaps it’s an unfair comparison, but it’s like someone who has alcoholism run in his family having to stay away from whiskey. By that same token, it would be interesting to find out what those items the mother ingests helps to lead to that chemical reaction.

    Speaking to another of your points, haven’t teens and preteens always been picked on for being different? Suicide can be caused by a number of things – one of my best friends in high school splattered his brains all over their kitchen because his uncle accused him of stealing from his shop. I would contend that the acceptance of the gay lifestyle in some quarters and the overt push by certain groups to “explore” all the alternatives of sexuality have led to this. Instead of shocking our parents through rock ‘n roll or doing drugs like the Baby Boomers did, or premarital sex like my generation, kids now have to resort to “gay until graduation” to provide shock value.

    Finally, since you’ve made the public admission, let me ask you as an expert: would civil unions be acceptable to you?

  10. I would imagine that it depends on the mother. It’s like autism – there are many genes that lead to autism, but there is no certain sequence that guarantees autism will occur. One sequence can turn autism on in one child, but the same sequence in another will not.

    And, I say what I did about the teens because, LGBT teens are 2-3 times more likely to commit suicide.

    If civil unions provoided the same rights and rules to insurance, medical decisions, divorce, etc, then yes, absolutely.
    And yes, while I acted on my urges, I did it for my own knowledge. I wasn’t willing to wonder my entire life if I was, or if it was a passing thing. I’ve come out more publicly recently because the initial reasons for keeping it hidden are no longer an issue. Real or percieved by myself, there was a possibility I was not willing to even give seed to by becoming public when I knew for sure.

    Homosexuality has existed for centuries, yet, it is still taboo in ways I don’t understand. In my mind, a pedophile is hurting the body and psyche of a child. A 30 year old man in a committed relationship with his partner of 10 years is hurting no one, but yet, his partner will have limited say in anything should he die. He has limited rights, because until marriage or civil unions are approved, they are essentially house mates.

  11. I think the legal aspects of cohabitation vary from state to state, and I don’t have a huge problem with civil unions because to me they equate to common-law marriage. If I have to compromise on the issue, I suppose I would accept that. (Personally I prefer the status quo – as does Maryland law which clearly states “marriage shall be between a man and a woman” – but I’m dead set against same-sex marriage.)

    My contention is that, by adopting same-sex marriage, we are opening ourselves up to legitimizing more deviant behavior down the road because those groups will be emboldened by the success of the gay “rights” movement. You may believe that “a pedophile is hurting the body and psyche of a child” but somewhere there are people who believe that children are sexually repressed and should be “liberated” to do all the things that adults do. I think it will be a race between them and the polygamists to see who can get their behavior into the mainstream next – you may recall there was an HBO show called “Big Love” that portrayed a fictional Utah businessman who had three wives.

    All that may happen when I’m too old to give a damn, but when you have kids you’ll begin to understand.

  12. Wow. So much nonsense not based on fact. First, most pedophiles fall into what you would call heterosexual–mostly men abusing girls. So let’s just go ahead and not confuse that with gay people.
    Second, you have never even tried to address the fact that in your own Bible’s reckoning (which is the source of your argument about what is moral and immoral), heterosexuals like yourself who have sex outside marriage and without the intent to have children have committed an equal (not lesser) sin to gay people. That is just a fact that you want to ignore because it is inconvenient.
    Third fact: the government deciding that it will recognize some church’s marriages and not others is clearly unequal interference in religious liberty. There are Christian churches that believe in allowing gay marriage, yet their rites are not sanctioned by law the way otehrs are.
    Fourth: allowing gay marriage is not “legislating immorality.” Nobody will turn gay because now they can get married. That is patently ridiculous. No church will be forced to marry gay people.
    Finally, government has tried to intervene on many occasions to legislate “morality” for heterosexuals: adultery laws, fornication laws, sodomy (in many states these regulate behavior between heterosexuals that you might be surprised t discover is technically illegal), etc, etc. These laws have systematically been dismantled. Why? Because people don’t want the government to get involved in the actions of consenting adults. Your argument, at its very core, is based on discrimination. It just is.

    Last point from me and I promise I will go away (though you are welcome for the comments bomb): it just amazes me that anyone would find this to be a threat. Why on earth should anyone care whether two consenting adults who love each other and can find a church to marry them do so? You want to really find a threat to marriage? Look at Kim Kardashian, Newt Gingrich, Britney Spears, and all those folks in the red states, where the divorce rates are higher than anywhere else.

  13. I wasn’t trying to equate pedophilia with gay, although there are certainly a share of gay pedophiles out there. My point was that, by establishing gay rights, you open the door to other possibilities from previously “wronged” groups.

    Now the next news flash: we are all sinners. But just because people of opposite genders live outside the bounds of marriage, we should allow the sham of gay marriage as well? There’s something completely illogical about that argument.

    Nor do I buy the “discrimination” argument because we as a society have to have some limits, lest we dissolve into the free-for-all of anarchy. Those Mormons and Muslims who believe polygamy should be allowed because their religion says so, well, obviously we are discriminating against them because they are consenting adults too. See where this can lead?

    The reason I care is because I believe this is the beginning of a slippery slope where we define deviancy down. As I said way in the beginning, it’s likely that coming generations will allow this genie out of the bottle, but don’t say we didn’t warn you about the effects of where this leads.

  14. “but don’t say we didn’t warn you about the effects of where this leads”

    The end of the world! I know, equality is so, so destructive.

  15. I thought you were going away. You must be like me and have to have the last word; problem is I own this microphone. And perhaps the Mayan calendar is correct.

    Just remember though, that “All men are created equal.” That doesn’t mean, though, that equality of outcome is certain. We are the products of the choices we make.

  16. Doesn’t really matter to me whether you post the comments, just thought since you have a comments section I ought to point out how hilarious it is that you acknowledge that:
    1. The sins you commit are equal in the eyes of God to anything gay people may or may not do
    2. We are the products of the choices we make
    3. You choose to be a sinner.

    Wait for it . . .wait for it: you are no different from gay people, yet you want the law to make a distinction. Can’t find it in the Constitution, though.

    Yeah, I know you aren’t going to post this, I don’t care–this message really is directed to you. You are a smart guy, I really do hope that at some point, somehow, the inequality of all this will seep in and you will get it. Nobody is asking you to like gay people, engage in a gay marriage yourself, have your church consecrate a gay marriage, or attend a gay pride celebration. I hear tell there are some Americans who still think black people are inherently inferior even after 1964! But what matters is that discrimination under the law was ended (well, it took a couple more efforts, but you get the picture). Equal protection under the law does not require you to change your personal beliefs. It just means we all get the same fair treatment. We are all Americans. We should all be equal.

  17. We are created equal. Again, you confuse equality of outcome with equality of opportunity.

    You’re correct in that fact that gays getting married won’t necessarily affect me. I can’t say I have a lot of close friends who are gay – if they are, I’m not completely aware of it (and frankly don’t much care), but I have had gay co-workers in the past and that was fine. Just do your job as part of the team and we’re good. As I’ve said, I don’t care who someone sleeps with.

    It was very telling that today in the House of Delegates an amendment was offered that would give the exact same legal protection to gay couples as it would to straight couples. Instead of marriage, it would be known as a “civil union.” That amendment failed and the liberal and (presumably) the gay community cheered. The same was true when the amendment to take the bill directly to referendum was defeated – if they’re so confident they are right, why would they be worried?

    In that instance, it was proven to me that this is not about rights, but about acceptance – the endorsement and legitimization of what many feel is an aberrant lifestyle choice. So when the polygamists or those who want to marry children, their next-of-kin, or their pets come to demand their “right” to marry I guess I should expect you to favor that, too – after all, it’s all in the name of “equality,” isn’t it?

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