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The Maryland Republicans for Marriage Equality group has passed 800 likes. Take a moment and go like it now.

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Who’s for freedom to marry, and Question 6?

Former Vice President Dick Cheney, Ambassador John Bolton and First Lady Laura Bush aren’t the only ones who’ve spoken out in favor of same-sex marriage. Check out our new list of notable right-of-center figures in Maryland and beyond.

And here are a bunch of other clips, many just from the past few days, to brighten your weekend:

  • Great letter by Randy Linville of Marriottsville in the Carroll County Times, which itself ran a superb editorial the other day on the freedom-oriented case for Question 6.
  • Former Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman has spoken out on the issue before, but now he’s got a letter in the Gazette: “Conservatives should support freedom to marry
  • If you were to nominate Maryland’s most distinguished conservative public intellectual, one strong candidate for the mantle would have to be AEI scholar Charles Murray, considered the key thinker behind welfare reform. So far as we know he hasn’t spoken out specifically on Question 6, but a little while back he explained why as a former opponent of same-sex marriage he had changed his mind and now regards it as not a big deal.
  • “The time for this is now” — middle-of-the-road Howard County policyblogger Tom Coale [HoCo Rising]
  • First-rate letter on religion and Question 6 by Michael Siciliano in the Cumberland Times-News;
  • A voice from Maine [State Rep. Stacey Fitts, video] And one from Colorado [Lauren Stieritz]
  • There are so many reasons for us to be proud of Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard, Carroll). There’s hardly a lawmaker in Annapolis with a finer conservative voting record. He’s done heavy lifting on so many crucial legislative issues. And he’s so tremendously supportive when it comes to our cause. Here’s a pic of him stopping by the Silver Spring office of Marylanders for Marriage Equality to do some phone banking for Question 6. And here Lisa and Laura Kittleman are seen canvassing for our cause as part of the PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) effort in Howard County.
  • Finally, in today’s Baltimore Sun, Annie Linskey mentions our efforts in Frederick County.

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Del. Kathy Afzali attacks Question 6, gay parents

Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Middletown) represents much of Frederick County, including my community. Here is her October 24 constituent newsletter, in which she opposes Question 6.

As MetroWeekly puts it: “Many of her ‘arguments’ are talking points used in commercials by the Maryland Marriage Alliance (MMA), and in other states by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the chief funder of MMA. They include disparaging gay parents, race-based arguments and implying homosexuality is a choice.”

How bad is Afzali’s newsletter? Consider the two remarkably absurd and insulting talking points with which it closes:

* “What makes it hard for a girl to grow up with a gay father is that she never gets to see him loving, honoring, or protecting the women in his life.” (From “Out From Under: The Impact of Homosexual Parenting)
* Women with gay or bisexual fathers are significantly less comfortable with closeness and intimacy, less able to trust and depend on others, and experience more anxiety in relationships than women with heterosexual fathers. (Arch Psychiatric Nursing 2009)

The first of these two quotes is from a memoir that has circulated in obscure rightist circles by a woman who had a horrible experience with her own father and jumps to drastic generalizations about the experience of millions of other kids whose parents are gay. If Del. Afzali truly believes that children raised by gay men “never” get to see their parents loving, honoring, or protecting women, then she really needs to get out more. If she puts such things in her newsletter without stopping to think whether she actually believes them, then she needs a different approach toward constituent communication.

The second of the two quotes can quickly be traced to its source, an article in the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, through a Google search. Had Del. Afzali spent a few moments on such a search to check it out, she would have found that the author of the study, Seton Hall nursing professor Theodora Sirota, has protested that anti-gay advocates were misrepresenting her research in furtherance of their agenda:

Dr. Sirota told me today by phone that her study could not be used to make a generalization about same-sex couples because the participants in her study did not grow up in same-sex homes. Instead, they grew up in what she called, “heterosexually-organized families where fathers were gay or bisexual.” In other words, the parents were in a mixed orientation marriage, where the mother was straight and the father was gay or bisexual.

Divorce or other forms of instability are common in such marriages, and such outcomes are well known to correlate with higher rates of relationship problems for children on reaching maturity. In other words, Afzali’s sources twisted a conventional finding (children face greater risks if their parents break up) into a completely unsupported assertion (the risks are not from the breakup but because the father was gay).

Thanks to John Riley of MetroWeekly for crediting us with breaking this story. I’ve written elsewhere about some of the other problems with “gay parents are bad” advocacy like the sort Del. Afzali relies on.

— Walter Olson

Update: Del. Afzali went on to vigorously promote, and speak at, a rally in Frederick’s Baker Park for “God-ordained marriage” in which a highlight was local pastor Luke Robinson’s speech noting that Hurricane Sandy struck New York City after Mayor Michael Bloomberg extended his support to same-sex marriage.

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“Republicans Support Same-Sex Marriage, Too”

Dave Myers letter in today’s Baltimore Sun, reprinted by permission:

Most election cycles voters are faced with various questions and referendums when they enter the voting booth. I write today highlighting one of the most important and controversial questions that Maryland voters will have the final say on. Question 6, The Civil Marriage Protection Act, will be one with which many will struggle.
As a life-long Republican, I wholeheartedly support the passage of this measure. Some may feel that it is contradictory to be a staunch Republican who supports marriage equality. It is not. I became a Republican because I believe in limited government, both in our citizen’s wallets and in their private lives. Today, a growing number of Republicans and conservatives alike are endorsing civil marriage equality. Dick Cheney, Laura Bush, Clint Eastwood, Grover Norquist, Theodore B. Olson, David Frum, Margaret Hoover, Ken Mehlman, and Mary Matalin have all been vocal proponents. In Maryland, a group of Republicans in favor of Question 6 has been very active.

At a time when divorce is more and more common, who are we to look down upon two people who want to create loving, stable, two-parent homes for children to grow up in? How can anyone say that a child is better off living in an orphanage as opposed to having two caring, albeit same-sex parents? We, as a society, should celebrate when two consenting adults make a life-long, loving commitment to each other, not forbid it. In today’s world, there is hardly such a thing as a “normal” family. Allowing same-sex marriage will only strengthen the institution, not destroy it.

I agree that no religious institution should be forced to recognize or perform these marriages, as this would go against the very core of our Constitution. However, the Declaration of Independence clearly states that citizens have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We are a country founded on freedom, and if I may borrow former Vice President Cheney’s line, “freedom means freedom for everyone.” This is a civil issue, not a religious one.

In closing, while I respect the opinions of those on the other side of this issue, (many of whom are very close friends), I ask that you join me in casting your ballot in favor of Question 6. This Republican and many others will proudly be voting for Gov. Mitt Romney and Question 6 in November. This is an idea that’s time has come. Look past the party line and consider this a human issue, not a partisan one.

— David Karl Schoenbrodt Myers, Ellicott City
The writer is vice chairman of the Howard County Republican Central Committee.

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Op-Ed: “A Republican in Favor of Question 6”

Excellent new op-ed by Kevin Waterman in the Chestertown Spy on the Eastern Shore. He’s given us permission to reprint it here:

Many Republican voices here in Maryland are calling on people to vote “No” on all of the state ballot questions. I am not one of them. I’m suggesting that people ought to be voting “Yes” on at least one question – Question 6.

I hear a wide variety of objections from my GOP friends to this stance, so I’d like to address them quickly.

Marriage equality is no threat to religious liberty. American courts have always been extremely respectful of freedom of religion and still are today. When churches in America can still legally refuse to marry an interracial couple, have a woman as a priest, or hire a gay person as a Sunday school teacher there is little reason to think any effort to force them to marry same-sex couples would meet with success.

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Imprecatory prayer

Our adversaries at the Maryland Marriage Alliance seem to make quite a specialty of it.

P.S. From the waspish Tim Hulsey on Facebook: “Note to Paul Schindler, prayer coordinator for the Maryland Marriage Alliance: ‘Satan’ is a proper noun, therefore capitalized, and as an appositive it should have a comma afterwards. Retake ninth-grade English and try again.”

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In the news, October 30

  • New Baltimore Sun survey shows Maryland voters evenly split on Question 6, within statistical margin of error. [MetroWeekly] Turnout is going to be the key, so make sure our supporters get to the polls! Early voting will resume tomorrow (Wed) and will continue through Friday with extended hours from 8am-9pm. Find your polling location here.
  • Truly excellent editorial in the Carroll County Times, with mention of Sen. Kittleman and GOP support. Other prominent newspapers have also endorsed Question 6, including the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post and the Frederick News-Post.
  • Don’t accept “gay lobby vs. organized religion” framing — it’s bogus [David Fishback letter in Gazette; Freedom To Marry roundup] Does NOM really believe you don’t count as a person of faith if you support freedom to marry? [Box Turtle Bulletin] “Why I as an evangelical Christian think same-sex marriage should be legal” [Sarah Bessey, Deeper Story] “My take: The Christian case for gay marriage” [lawprof Mark Osler, CNN Belief Blog] Baltimore pastor speaks his mind in homily: “The St. Vincent parishioners gave Lawrence a standing ovation.” [NCR Online]
  • Here’s the ad from the campaign for 6 responding to ads from the other side claiming the law will change what children are taught in schools:

    And Box Turtle Bulletin, Jeremy Hooper and Scott Wooledge have some background about the guy in the “They’re teaching gay stuff in Massachusetts schools!” ads, and the Boston Globe doesn’t think much of his claims either.

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Revolt in the GOP: “We’re not going to oppose 6”

It’s often assumed that the Maryland Republican Party is operating as some sort of united force against Question 6 to defeat the freedom to marry, but that’s very far from the truth. In point of fact the party holds a wide range of opinion. One of the clearest signs of that is that many county Republican Central Committees, including those in some of the biggest counties, are disinclined to recommend a vote against 6 or to throw their weight in the scales in other ways against it.

According to direct information from persons in a position to know, at least three county GOP central committees have decided not to issue any recommendation to Republican voters on Question 6. All three of those counties — Prince George’s, Howard, and Queen Anne’s — are home to prominent Republican activists who are known to favor the state’s new same-sex marriage law.

Now it’s true that in some other counties, such as Montgomery, Frederick, Anne Arundel, Harford, and Calvert, the party organization is promoting a vote against 6. For many other counties, we haven’t been able to find indications online of whether the party has committed itself.

So this post is meant to serve as a sort of scorecard. If you can bring us something reasonably definitive (a document, a news account, the word of a committee member) as to what stand other county central committees have taken, we’ll add them to the listing.

In the mean time, all hail to the Prince George’s, Howard and Queen Anne’s county GOPs for recognizing that good Republicans are divided on this issue and that the best course for the party is to leave it to each voter’s conscience.

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“When it comes to forcing my own beliefs and opinions? I simply can’t do it…”

Hand choosing "For the Referred Law"

Terrific Tumblr post and picture today from Intentionally Blair:

Financially/Economically speaking, I am devoted to this party…

But when it comes to rejecting rights of others? When it comes to forcing my own beliefs and opinions? I simply can’t do it…

And as always, friends, I swear to you – I will ALWAYS vote for what I feel is right for MAN kind – not simply, ‘MY’ Kind.

Read the whole thing.

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Refuting anti-6 scares: a FAQ

Here’s a page concisely answering various scare themes (“Gay marriage will be taught in schools!” “Clergy will be punished for not approving marriages!”) circulated by some of our opponents.

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