MARYLAND AND GAY MARRIAGE
These are two things I am sure of: Barack Obama will overwhelmingly win Maryland’s ten electoral votes this November and that same electorate will say “no” to Maryland’s law permitting gay marriage.
I realize this seems to be contradictory, but a closer look at the state reveals the calculus.
While Maryland is reliably Democratic (there is not a single state-wide elected Republican office holder), it remains a somewhat conservative place when it comes to social policy.
Keep in mind that it was only 40 years ago this week that George Wallace won the Democratic primary in Maryland. The state has certainly changed politically since then, but not as much as one might conclude.
The backbone of Maryland’s Democratic Party is made up of Catholics and African Americans. While many Maryland Catholics will vote in favor allowing gay marriage in the expected November referendum, the majority will not. And it is the African American church leaders in the state who are the loudest and strongest opponents to the Marriage Equality Act. Their power from the pulpit is substantial.
Despite national polls showing increasing acceptance of homosexuality and gay rights, same sex marriage has been voted down in 32 out of 32 state referenda. Maryland is not the state that will break that streak.
President Obama took considerable political risk last week by coming out in favor of marriage equality. My first reaction was “Well, looks like Mitt Romney will be our new President.” My personal view is that if two people want to commit to love and take care of each other for the rest of their lives, good for them. Their sexual orientation is none of my business. But the full leap to permitting two men or two women legally to marry is still, probably, a generation away in the United States.
My daughter is 17. She is part of the next wave of American decision makers. I can honestly say she and her friends do not judge anybody by the color of their skin or by their sexual orientation. I admire that. Her open minded fairness is a new generation Core Value.