In Maryland, fourteen becomes two

And everyone thought the Maryland Senate would be the tougher hurdle for gay marriage.

But yesterday, a Maryland House of Delegates committee vote on the matter was stymied by the absence of two Delegates who had originally expressed their support but now had second thoughts; this according to a story by Julie Bykowicz in the Baltimore Sun. Delegate Jill Carter of Baltimore City was holding out for the restoration of $15 million in school funding cuts to Baltimore City schools and a vote on a pet bill of hers presuming joint custody of children for divorcing couples; meanwhile, Delegate Tiffany Alston wanted time to pray over her vote.

Their absences were key because the 22-person committee appears to be split 12-10 in favor of the bill and losing the two ‘yes’ votes would kill the bill on a 10-10 tie. Instead of holding the vote as promised, Judiciary Committee Chair Joseph Vallario, Jr. opted not to send the gay marriage bill on to defeat, choosing to postpone the vote until all 22 members (or at least 11 supporters) were present.

Obviously Delegate Alston could become key – while Carter will likely be mollified by a promise to look at a funding solution more suitable to her needs, Alston may be having second thoughts based on the perception of her Prince George’s County district toward gay marriage. (As an example of this, it was minority votes that doomed California’s gay marriage bill to failure in 2008 via the Proposition 8 ballot issue.) Opponents of same-sex marriage are already plotting to gather signatures to put the bill to referendum next year should it pass the General Assembly, but that won’t be necessary if Alston or another House Judiciary Committee supporter switches sides, leaving 11 for and 11 against.

Yet, while this is a case where the outcome would benefit the conservative side, there should still be some criticism shown to Delegates Alston and Carter for ducking this vote. If they are having second thoughts about the measure, they should just show up and say no. Believe it or not, gay marriage is NOT the most important issue facing Maryland – even Delegate Carter noted, “there’s no need to act quickly on gay marriage because the 90-day session is only about half over and lawmakers are in their first year of a four-year term.” So what is the rush to pass a bill this year? Don’t they have a budget deficit to address?

It is sort of a bitter irony – and a sad commentary on our society today – that social conservatives and pro-life advocates can’t even get the time of day in the General Assembly, but if a small minority in the population wants to be able to call themselves “married” our representatives in Annapolis are supposed to drop everything and hurry to pass what they desire, especially when civil unions achieve many of the same goals.

In the end, though, I think the two Delegates will fold. Carter will be promised what she wants and Alston, who is a freshman legislator, will find out that what the Democratic Party wants in Annapolis, the Democratic Party gets – principles otherwise be damned.

But I’m hoping Alston proves me wrong and changes her mind in order to thwart the militant gay lobby. It may not be the most logical thinking I exhibit because I can’t cite a foolproof explanation for it other than tradition, but I believe marriage is only meant to be between a man and a woman. Maryland doesn’t need to be yet another laboratory for social experimentation, and the law should stay as is on the subject regardless of what Doug Gansler chooses to think.

Author: Michael

It's me from my laptop computer.

7 thoughts on “In Maryland, fourteen becomes two”

  1. For what it’s worth, I don’t think social conservatives have much room to insist on civil unions being just as good after Allan Kittleman was roundly derided and attacked by many of the same social cons for proposing a bill providing civil unions rather than full-out gay marriage.

  2. As for the gay marriage question, the fundamental mistake is thinking it is Marriage.

    State marriage may superficially look like the institution of Marriage, but real, true Marriage is a whole lot more than a piece of paper from the government, which is all a state marriage amounts to.

    Government choosing to give that scrap of paper the same name as Marriage doesn’t make it so, anymore than calling a jar of peanut butter a PB&J sandwich would make it true.

    In the end, all state marriages are is a type of contract. As such, arbitrary restrictions upon entrance into that contract by consenting adults is a clearcut inhibition on freedom of contract and any supporter of free markets ought to get behind eliminating said restriction (with the natural follow-up being renaming state marriages to something that doesn’t confuse the issue the same way).

  3. Ah, the hypocrisy of small government advocates who continue to champion the interference of big government into personal relationships. Want to be consistent? Demand that government get out of the marriage business entirely. Anything short of that is one giant steaming pile of hypocrisy.

  4. Great point, Kevin! This isn’t about changing the institution of marriage but rather about affording the same advantages to homosexuals in committed relationships as heterosexuals. On a side note: I need to add your blog to my list of those I check regularly.

    I agree that gay marriage isn’t the most important issue facing the state these days, but I disagree with the idea that that means we should just put it off. It would be just as easy to pass it (at this point) if our legislators would stop dragging their feet and worrying about what this would do to their constituency.

  5. I agree this isn’t the most important issue facing the state, too. Unfortunately, we have a lot of conservative activists spending their time on this issue (which will only affect a small percentage of people in the state) instead of focusing on the fight over taxes and budget, which have much more impact on the state’s residents.

    MSOP is busy taking on gay marriage (by bizarrely claiming it’s somehow an expansion of government power) and is absent on the fight over the gas tax, the alcohol tax, the septic tank ban, and the state budget. The state party is spending money fighting gay marriage by making robocalls. I don’t see them doing much to fight the gas tax except put up a website and they are doing nothing to battle the alcohol tax or try to torpedo the bloated state budget.

    So perhaps liberal legislators are showing some misguided priorities by focusing on gay marriage when the state has so many other problems, but conservatives in the state are even more misguided by spending to much energy on this issue and ignoring the really harmful things being proposed in Annapolis.

  6. Look at Michael’s summary of the WCRC meeting: gay marriage was right up there with the other 3-4 topics. Pretty pathetic.

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