Monthly Archives: June 2012

In the News

  • According to the latest Washington Post poll, Republicans under the age of 45 are now evenly split on same-sex marriage, 46-46%. Headline: “Republicans slowly warming to gay marriage.”
  • “We, the Republicans of the District of Columbia support the belief that all individuals, without regard to sexual orientation, are entitled to full and equal protection under the laws and the Constitution and that everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect.” The D.C. GOP thus becomes the first state Republican party to add LGBT-inclusive language to its platform. In states such as Indiana, progress on the issue this year consists of the GOP platform being silent on same-sex marriage this time around, where it had been negative before. At the other end of the spectrum, alas, is Texas, where the platform at least has dropped its former calls to imprison gays — grateful for small favors etc. — but still puts scare quotes around the word “couples”. The “baby steps” in progress in Texas apparently owe a lot to some dedicated local volunteers, whose task at times must seem thankless.
  • Progress: Institute for American Values president David Blankenhorn, long one of the most high-profile opponents of gay marriage, now explains in the New York Times why he has come to support it.
  • In Britain, meanwhile, the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister David Cameron has been outstandingly supportive of gay interests. There have been numerous openly gay Tory members of Parliament for many years, and the Conservatives “were the only Party of the main three to mention same-sex marriage in 2010 election documents,” according to @LGBToryUK. As part of the “Out4Marriage” campaign, you can watch videos endorsing same-sex marriage from such party figures as Tim Montgomerie of the influential Conservative Home website, Home Secretary (somewhat corresponding to our Attorney General) Theresa May, Parliamentary Secretary and MP Desmond Swayne (supports it “principally because I’m a Christian,”) and Crispin Blunt, an MP and undersecretary in the justice ministry (of gays’ legal inequality as a problem, “we need to tidy this up” — very British way of putting it).
  • Vice presidential daughter Mary Cheney has married her partner Heather Poe.
  • You may know Marylanders for Marriage Equality as the group organized to support Maryland’s new marriage law. [Sign their pledge, which will get you on their information list.] The ballot campaign this fall will cost money to win and they say that thanks to a kind donor every donation this week gets matched on a one-for-one basis. You can donate here.
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Thanks for signing the redistricting petition. Now could we interest you in breaking up your marriage?

As political junkies know, there’s a race down to the wire on whether Maryland voters will be given a chance to overturn one of the most grotesque gerrymanders drawn by any legislature in the country. Annapolis Democrats, with the aim of giving themselves a 7-1 majority in the state’s House delegation, devised a map in which every district goes through twists and contortions so as to bring together artificial groupings of voters; a federal judge remarked that the Third District resembles “a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the state.” (Maps here; video.) The map uses tiny strips of land to join unrelated blobs of population across wide expanses, and spreads most districts over multiple expensive media markets, greatly raising the cost of mounting an effective challenge to an incumbent. As an excellent editorial put it the other day in the D.C. Examiner, the whole exercise “totally ignores jurisdictional boundaries, physical barriers and communities of interest.”

If 55,736 valid signatures can be submitted by the end of this month — that’s this weekend — voters will have a chance to correct this travesty in favor of a map with more compact districts that better track natural geographic and political lines and communities of interest. The effort to get that challenge on the ballot is led by Republicans, but it should really appeal to all voters, independents and Democrats included, who prefer good government to partisan shenanigans.

So everyone in our household was looking forward to signing the petition and recommending that our neighbors and friends do so. When we went online to MDPetitions.com, though, our hearts sank. Someone in the Republican camp had had the bright idea of harnessing together the redistricting petition with the petition seeking to reverse the recognition of marriage rights to same-sex couples. If you visit the MDPetitions.com site to sign the one, it will ask you to sign the other too.

Sorry, guys. No matter how much I may agree with you on redistricting, I’m not going to send friends over to your site just to see them urged to sign a petition against the families and futures of gay and lesbian Marylanders. We signed a paper copy of the redistricting petition instead, but without feeling free to send people to the online site, it’s going to be hard for us to lend as much help as we could.

Next time, MDPetitions.com, please think twice before yoking a good cause to a bad.

P.S. I’m told I should address this complaint directly to Del. Neil Parrott (R-Hagerstown), the one behind MDPetitions.com.

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Our Facebook group

It’s here. And our Twitter feed is here.

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In the news

Recent readings and news items of interest to the cause:

  • At the American Conservative, Noah Millman outlines a Burkean case for gay marriage — in brief, America has gone through “organic cultural change” on the relevant issues, and now the question is whether the law will catch up with where society already is. Some very good comments as well about how the “precautionary principle,” so impractical and unsuitable when confronting environmental risk, is equally so when confronting the risks of change in social policy;
  • Virginia Del. Bob Marshall, maestro of anti-gay animus in the Old Dominion, was utterly crushed in the Senate primary with less than 7% of the Republican vote [RCP] Not unrelated, this quote from a political scientist in the Washington Times: “You can’t win an election by being opposed to gay marriage anymore, even in Virginia.”
  • Eminent former U.N. Ambassador — and backer of same-sex marriage — John Bolton headlined this week’s Anne Arundel County Lincoln-Reagan Day Dinner. Pictures here and here.
  • Josh Barro at Forbes notes that GOP politicians are increasingly feeling pressed by their own children, friends and relatives to soften or drop anti-gay positions. Is there anyone who expects this pressure to do anything but intensify?
  • Finally, from @daveweigel on Twitter: “I still can’t believe that legal gay marriage forced John Edwards to behave like this.”

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Jonah Goldberg on gay marriage

Jonah Goldberg, National Review editor-at-large and syndicated columnist, discussing fusionism with Matt Welch at Reason:

In the 1960s, there were a lot of libertarians who believed in crushing monogamy and all of this kind of stuff and crushing the institution of marriage. And now they’re all cheering when they see two gay guys with wedding rings pushing a baby down Broadway. They think it’s fantastic, it’s a nice turn. And I think that is a nice turn. I think that if you’re going to have a position on homosexuality in life it’s better that they bourgeois-ify and pair up than live in pagan society. I think it’s great.

P.S. Welcome Andrew Sullivan readers! And please take a look around the blog, especially if you’re a well-wisher of Maryland’s historic new marriage law, which faces a likely ballot fight this November. Our Facebook group is here. — W.O.

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Poll: Maryland voters back same-sex marriage

In Maryland and elsewhere, poll numbers have shifted dramatically toward public support of same-sex marriage in recent months. According to CNN, the cause now leads by a 54-42 margin nationwide, while another poll finds voters in Maryland similarly split 52-39 on the general question, 57-37 on intended voting to uphold the law. Polls in other states with battleground ballot measures confirm the trend: 54 percent of voters are favorable in Washington state, while Minnesota voters oppose the proposed SSM ban in that state by a 49-43 margin.

So why are so many Republican and conservative officeholders in Maryland continuing to beat the drums against the state’s new marriage law? A few months ago it might have been possible for them to imagine that the issue united right-leaning voters while dividing those on the left. No longer. Per polling firm PPP, 28 percent of self-described Maryland Republicans and 24 percent of conservatives intend to vote in favor of gay marriage this November, while only 18 percent of Democrats and 14 percent of liberals intend to vote against it. Among other demographic groups, Catholic Marylanders intend to vote for the law by a 51-40 margin, Independents by 52-41, and parents of children under 18 by an emphatic 67-27.

Most of these opinion shifts have been in progress persistently over many years, a process documented in this useful analysis by Missouri Freedom Watch. According to PPP, however, the “movement over the last two months can be explained almost entirely by a major shift in opinion about same-sex marriage among black voters,” who shifted from 20-points-against to 19-points-in-favor following President Obama’s and the (Baltimore-based) NAACP’s endorsements of the idea. The “fan the hostility” or “reach black voters by bashing gays” strategy notoriously promoted by the National Organization for Marriage (which is a major backer of the Maryland anti-SSM drive) stands exposed as foolish as well as wicked.

This particular issue is shaping up a divisive loser for Maryland Republicans — and not just because it repels Democratic-leaning voters in downcounty Montgomery or college towns. It’s hard to imagine Republicans doing well statewide without a strong showing in places like Howard County, yet a poll there finds same-sex marriage favored by 56 percent of county voters.

As a state, especially one that must compete with nearby Virginia and other business-friendly states, Maryland suffers from high taxes, a stagnant and government-dependent job market, too much regulation and a host of other ills that call for fresh leadership in Annapolis. It’s not too late for a message of sound economics that brings Republicans, conservatives and libertarians together rather than dividing natural allies.

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New Facebook page: Maryland for All Families

Now you can join us on Facebook! Our new Maryland for All Families group is aimed at everyone who’d like to advance the cause of same-sex marriage among Maryland Republicans, libertarians and conservatives. Join here, and help spread the word!

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