Wednesday, January 23, 2013

UPDATE: Sam Arora Clarifies Explanation of Marriage Equality Flip-Flop // BTW: Arora Has Less Than $3,000 Cash on Hand

BACKGROUND: Maryland Juice recently published televised comments from Democratic lawmaker Sam Arora where he attempted to explain why he betrayed a promise to support marriage equality legislation. His convoluted response implied that I personally had some sort of political agenda in asking about his flip-flop. Moreover, Arora strangely claimed that he was in fact a supporter of equal rights. This last claim baffled many marriage equality advocates and led an anonymous source to weigh in with harsh comments (excerpt below):
ANONYMOUS SOURCE #1: As far as I can tell, there is nothing in the formal legislative record of him ever exercising his tiny little brain to actually draft an amendment and submit it for his colleagues consideration.  Once again -- he is trying to rewrite history -- and avoid the legitimate scrutiny that his lies deserve....

ARORA CLARIFIES HIS FLIP-FLOP (KIND OF) - Today The Washington Blade followed up with additional coverage of Sam Arora's explanation of his marriage equality flip-flop. Sam responded to a media call from The Blade by revealing evidence of the amendment he was talking about. It turns out that Arora joined Delegates Tiffany Alston and Geraldine Valentino-Smith in trying to turn the marriage equality bill into a civil unions bill. But Arora declined to mention that Alston ultimately voted for the marriage equality bill, while he voted against it. Check out a quick excerpt from The Blade's coverage:
WASHINGTON BLADE:  Maryland Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County) - who campaigned on a pledge to support a marriage equality bill then voted against it -  has offered his first public explanation for the vote.

"A lot of us wanted the goal of full legal equality for all couples," Arora said during a Jan. 8 segment of NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt in response to a question from David Moon of Maryland Juice, a website that covers state politics....

Arora also referenced an amendment that he, Del. Geraldine Valentino-Smith (D-Prince George’s County) and former Del. Tiffany Alston introduced that would have replaced marriage with civil unions in the bill - he directed the Washington Blade to it in response to a request for comment on Moon’s question....
The Blade also published comments from Del. Mary Washington highlighting that civil unions were not a serious alternative to the marriage equality legislation being debated at the time:
DEL. MARY WASHINGTON: "We were pushing for full marriage equality and that civil unions has been found to be inadequate," she said. "In fact states that have civil unions are actually now looking to full marriage equality...."

MORE DISCUSSION OF SAM ARORA'S MARRIAGE EQUALITY ALTERNATIVE: Coincidentally, at the same time that The Blade followed-up with Sam Arora, a knowledgeable source also stepped forward to provide evidence that Sam Arora offered an alternative to full marriage equality by sponsoring a civil unions effort. They provided a rebuttal to allegations that Arora was fibbing about sponsoring an amendment to the marriage equality bill. We provide our source's response below:
ANONYMOUS SOURCE #2: I've been a Maryland Juice reader for years and I've always abstained from commenting, but this time I feel the need for certain intervention. 

To the anonymous reader: it is apparent from your rhetoric that you have strong feelings toward Sam. I know a lot of people out there are still as furious at him as the day he wavered in support of Marriage Equality. As crumby as some of the things Sam did and how juvenile his refusal to answer the question, "Why?" is - there is no reason to lie about it/him. The facts paint a bad enough picture, without trumped up rhetoric.

You are right about certain information, but wrong about important details that would leave any knowing person to believe you are just reproducing half-formed thoughts. Let me be clear on the fact that I am not defending Sam or his actions, merely setting some crucial inaccuracies straight. (It is also important to note that there are more inaccurate facts than the two listed below).

First, if an amendment were drawn up and not submitted, it would not show up in the Legislative Record. That doesn't mean it didn't exist. If an alternate bill were created and not submitted, you wouldn't see the politicking that occurred behind the scenes to ensure Sam kept that civil unions bill in a drawer. "Proposed" doesn't necessarily mean he proposed it in committee or on the floor. Only he would know what he proposed to his fellow legislators as an alternative. Legislative Records don't reflect the political formula behind the text - so none of us would have any idea if he had drafted his own civil unions bill or amendment.

Second, you have no idea what his motivations were for abstaining in committee. Only he does - so to pass off your off-base conjecture as fact is irresponsible and evident of your emotional tactlessness.  Also, the bill wasn't before the Judiciary Committee in 2012. It was before a joint committee with Health and Government Operations (HGO), which has a majority "yay" voting populace. While the Judiciary had a slimmer margin, HGO had enough "yay" votes to carry the bill out of committee regardless of a single delegate's vote.

As two final notes: 1-How is Tiffany Alston not the story here? How does Sam get the glory of being that swing vote? He is just another DINO who is on the verge of extinction, she is where the story is/was. And two: Sam didn't answer the question on television and I applaud Mr. Moon for getting through and asking Sam on the air. Hopefully he can get a better answer out of him next time.

MARYLAND JUICE ANALYSIS - Okay, so Sam Arora thinks that his support for an amendment to turn marriage equality legislation into civil unions gets him off the hook. But should that fact satisfy folks who are pissed off at his betrayal of marriage equality? I think not.

While I appreciate Arora's clarification, I think it is without merit. As a candidate, Sam did not campaign on civil unions; he claimed he would support marriage equality legislation. The question still remains: what happened to Sam Arora to make him decide not to keep his promise to support marriage equality? Sam's constituents, donors, and colleagues still deserve an answer.

DISTRICT 19 FUNDRAISING STATUS // ARORA HAS NO DONORS - In the meantime, a few potential candidates have contacted Maryland Juice to express interest in taking on Sam Arora in 2014. As a result, I thought I'd do a quick round-up of the most current fundraising figures. Sam serves in Maryland's District 19 in the House of Delegates. There are three incumbent Democrats serving in D19: Sam Arora, Bonnie Cullison and Ben Kramer. Note that Arora has not raised any real money in the last year, which ought to make him an attractive target for ambitious District 19 progressives. Right now Jay Hutchins is the only potential challenger who has posted a report, so we provide his fundraising figures below. If I missed someone obvious, please contact Maryland Juice.

Del. Sam Arora
  • 2012: Raised $287
  • 2013 Cash on Hand: $2,963

Del. Bonnie Cullison
  • 2012: Raised $13,830
  • 2013 Cash on Hand: $16,881

Del. Ben Kramer
  • 2012: Raised $22,566
  • 2013 Cash on Hand $24,426

Jay Hutchins
  • 2012: Raised $860
  • 2013 Cash on Hand: $21,479

Lastly, below you can read the civil unions amendment that Sam Arora proposed alongside Delegates Tiffany Alston and Geraldine Valentino-Smith:

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