Sunday, March 4, 2012

Maryland Marriage Equality Fallout: MD Gov. O'Malley Better Than NY Gov. Cuomo // Plus, The Anthony Muse Question

WHITE HOUSE 2016: Last week, Maryland became the eighth state in the United States to approve marriage equality, and already some are hailing this as a major political milestone for Governor Martin O'Malley. The Free State's governor made this a legislative priority this year, and there is little doubt that his fierce advocacy for civil rights made passage this year possible.

Notably, Governor O'Malley is jockeying with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the early field for the 2016 Democratic Presidential Primary. Gov. Cuomo surprised political observers by pushing marriage equality through the New York legislature last year, and it quickly put him on the national radar. But at least one LGBT rights advocate thinks that Gov. O'Malley is the more worthy candidate. The website bills itself as "The Online Donor Community for LGBT Equality," and today, former District 18 Delegate candidate and LGBT rights advocate Dana Beyer writes:
Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley is a politician with a firm, steadfast belief in civil rights who has managed to successfully evolve to extend full civil rights to the LGBT community.

Taking the lead on marriage equality in the state for the 2012 legislative session, the Governor weathered assaults from the Republicans and his own conservative Democratic allies....

This culminated in an historic signing ceremony in the State Capitol on March 1, 2012.

And his support for the rights of the LGBT community does not rest with marriage. Unlike too many Democrats, including his fellow Governor and 2016 Democratic Presidential contender, New Yorker Andrew Cuomo, he is a strong supporter of full equality for the trans and gender non-conforming communities....
Shortly after the video recorded beating of Chrissy Polis in a Baltimore County McDonald's went viral, he publicly announced his support for comprehensive protections, deliberately including public accommodations protections which had been stripped out of the previous year's bill.

While he does not have the power necessary to make gender identity protections a reality in the statehouse this year, his example sent important signals to two populous Maryland counties, Howard and Baltimore, which joined Montgomery County this year in providing comprehensive protections. 

LOCAL IMPACT OF MD MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Meanwhile, Josh Kurtz at Center Maryland has an interesting column that highlights numerous interesting tidbits in the post-marriage equality political world. He urges readers to look beyond the consequences for Gov. O'Malley's national career and points out a few local angles:
There are so many things to contemplate, beyond the obvious question of how the vote may affect Gov. Martin O‘Malley‘s (D) national ambitions:
  • Del. John Bohannon’s (D) public agonizing over the bill, leading to his last-minute text message to House Speaker Mike Busch (D) that he would in fact support it — even as his brother-in-law, state Sen. Roy Dyson (D), once again opposed it. Bohannon will have to campaign extra hard in 2014.
  • The very public, almost theatrical opposition of lawmakers running for, or preparing to run for, higher office, like state Sens. Anthony Muse (D) and David Brinkley (R ) and Bryan Simonaire (R ).
  • Indicted Del. Tiffany Alston’s (D) search for redemption.
  • The surprising support from Republican Dels. Wade Kach and Robert Costa (prompting a rumor that Costa, known for the “We Speak Martini Here” neon sign in his legislative office, might switch parties).
  • State Sen. Jamie Raskin (D), ever the constitutional scholar, brilliantly defending the bill on the Senate floor.
  • Senate President Mike Miller’s (D) desire to just get it over with.
  • The eye-raising fact that all the African-American senators from Prince George’s County voted against it, while all the black senators from Baltimore voted for it (could it be because most of the city senators’ districts contain significant chunks of white population?).
  • The pure and poignant emotion of the legislature’s openly gay members following the House and Senate votes.
On that last point, you have to wonder whether interpersonal relationships in Annapolis have been irrevocably altered following these two razor-thin votes. For gay lawmakers, half of their colleagues have just publicly declared their willingness to consign them to second-class status. That’s pretty heavy — a lot more visceral than just voting against someone’s bill.

THE ANTHONY MUSE QUESTION: Notably, Kurtz's column also spends a lot of effort highlighting difficult political questions surrounding Prince George's County -- especially regarding State Senator Anthony Muse and his U.S. Senate campaign. Kurtz notes how the marriage equality issue may create strain with Prince George's County and its large African American voting population. But Maryland Juice takes issue with this framing. To the extent that Anthony Muse's campaign has failed to gain traction -- I find it problematic and divisive to place the blame at the feet of LGBT activists and liberal politicians.

Anthony Muse was not only aligned with the Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats on marriage equality -- he also opposed the Dream Act. On two of the most high-profile issues facing Free State voters in 2012, Muse is going against the Democratic grain and siding against the big-tent philosophy of the Democratic Party. Why should immigrants, liberals, LGBT advocates and other members of the Democratic base be excited by such a campaign? Muse didn't just vote against these measures -- he is campaigning on his opposition to them. Don't forget that he stood with Tea Party leaders to rally against equal rights. Now he has the gall to blame the rest of the party for his lack of success?

Ish don't think so.

No comments:

Post a Comment