|Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (D)|
Just one year ago, the Maryland House of Delegates had failed to even vote on a marriage equality bill after it passed the Maryland State Senate. During that vote, it revealed a lack of political will, even among allegedly progressive politicians like Sam Arora who had campaigned on their support for marriage equality then changed their minds when the vote became a reality.
The news today that Republican politicians like the karmically challenged Ken Mehlman and even the odious Dick Cheney were lobbying legislators in favor of the marriage equality legislation while Sam Arora was refusing to take a public stand roiled the LGBT blogosphere.
Governor O'Malley released a statement:
“Today, the House of Delegates voted for human dignity. Speaker Busch and his fellow Delegates deserve a lot of credit for their hard work. At its heart, their vote was a vote for Maryland’s children….Now, as the Senate prepares to vote, all of us are needed – and we’re prepared to redouble our efforts. The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual. Love is an unalienable right.”As for Arora? He voted no (again). There are numerous people, yours truly included, who have a decided interest in making sure that his vote today against equality for all (after being personally lobbied by phone to vote yes by Bill Clinton, Governor O'Malley and Terry Mcauliffe) was a career-ending decision.
The bill is expected to pass the State Senate fairly quickly and be enthusiastically signed into law by Governor O'Malley, who becomes another 2016 Democratic presidential contender and sitting Governor who fought for marriage equality in his state (following in the footsteps of New York governor Andrew Cuomo and Washington governor Chris Gregoire). Only New York will definitely have marriage in 2013, because there is no practical process by which the state's marriage equality law can be challenged by referendum.
It also means that the 2012 elections will have three affirmative marriage equality ballot fights (if we win then same-sex couples can get married) in Maryland, Washington and Maine and two defensive marriage equality ballot fights (if we lose then marriage equality is banned at the state constitutional level) in North Carolina and Minnesota. Interestingly, all 5 states are considered "blue" (Democratic) states likely to cast their votes for President Barack Obama.
A serious question will need to be asked: do you spend more money on defense (North Carolina and Minnesota) or on offense (Washington, Maryland and Maine)? Plus there's the possible election of Tammy Baldwin as the first openly LGBT member of the United States Senate from Wisconsin.
It's definitely going to be an interesting election year!