Mar
04
2011

Democratic legislators flee… SAME-SEX MARRIAGE bill? [Fixed]

In Maryland?

Apparently.  Maryland has been trying to pass a SSM bill for years – the last time they tried, its failure was a genuine shock to SSM supporters – and it did look like the latest version (HB 55, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act”) would pass once it made it through the MD Senate (barely) last week.  But before it could goes to the House it has to get through their Judiciary Committee… and on Tuesday two critical Democrats refused to show up for the meeting, thus making the vote impossible.  It will probably surprise nobody here to read that both Democrats (Tiffany Allston, Jill Carter) are African-Americans who represent African-American districts; it might surprise some to hear that both are co-sponsors of HB 55.  I called the Maryland Assembly this morning: they confirmed that the bill is still stuck in committee, which means (among other things) that possibly Rep. Allston hasn’t made up her mind yet after all.  Or is just worried that her constituents won’t change their minds anytime soon.

This is not actually funny, although I concede that people opposed to SSM may legitimately beg to differ with me on that.  Neither is it a case of ends justifying means – and I will not concede that differing on that is legitimate.  The Republic will survive the establishment or non-establishment of same-sex marriages in one or many or all states.  What it cannot survive is the establishment of the ‘principle’ that participating in the democratic process requires you to continue to participate [only when you are winning]*.  If Rep. Allston’s and Rep. Carter’s constituents don’t like HB 55, then those two legislators need to decide whether they agree with their constituents or not.  If they do, they should vote no.  If they don’t, they should vote yes.

Either way, Allston and Carter can then deal with the consequences that come from making a choice – a choice, by the way, that they implicitly volunteered to make by running for office.  These two are no different in spirit than the state Democrats from Indiana and Wisconsin who are hiding out rather than do their jobs, and they should be treated accordingly.

Moe Lane

*[I had somebody point out that I mangled this point horribly.  Corrected, and my bad.]

6 Comments

  • […] in Maryland are now skipping out on committee meetings for same-sex marriage legislation? Moe Lane has the story: Maryland has been trying to pass a SSM bill for years – the last time […]

  • Michael N. says:

    I think you might want to re-read the fourth sentence in the second full paragraph above; “I do not think it means what you think it means”, to use the old quote.

    Our system of government has a multitude of ways for working to promote your viewpoint, and there are many well-established protections against the “tyranny of the majority”. However, ultimately there has to be a vote, and you need to stand up and be counted when that vote comes around. If you lose, put on your big-kid underwear and deal with it — there are many things that can be re-evaluated down the road by people who are willing to negotiate (and govern) in good faith.

    I believe the majority of Americans (though certainly not all) are willing to deal in good faith with their fellow citizens. Those who are not willing to do so need to be moved out of places of responsibility, no matter their party affiliation.

    One note about the Maryland SSM issue — this is actually the first time an SSM bill has gotten out to the General Assembly. Up until the most recent elections, it didn’t have the votes to get out of the MD Senate Judiciary Committee. There had been efforts to get the Maryland courts to rule on the issue, (Conaway v. Deane & Polyak), but the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled in 2007 that the Maryland statute preventing SSM was constitutional. We got a “domestic partnership” law, but that was the extent of advances to date. Even if the bill passes, it will certainly go up for referendum in 2012, which is going to be the big challenge.

  • Demosthenes says:

    Actually, regardless of anyone’s views on SSM, I still think most people can find this kind of funny from a particular standpoint. Sure, it’s still Democratic legislators doing the fleeing, but it’s a refreshing change of pace to see them running from their own party’s bill.

  • Barack Obama says:

    Mr. Lane, regarding your point about participating only when you are winning, I would like to make it clear that …

    Present.

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