ACTION NEEDED: Maryland Marriage Equality Bill On Life Support
March 02, 2011 11:16 am ET by Equality Matters staff
UPDATE: After delaying a committee vote on Maryland's marriage equality bill, Del. Jill Carter has announced that she is now "content and ready to vote for the bill." With Del. Carter and Del. Alston now back on board, it appears that, barring any new defectors, the bill will make it out of the House Judiciary Committee as early as tomorrow with exactly 12 votes, the minimum needed for committee passage.
The battle for marriage equality in Maryland is far from over -- a final House vote on the bill is likely to come sometime next week. HB 175 is still several votes short of the 71 needed for passage, and anti-gay groups are committed to delaying the legislation as much as possible.
Marylanders call your delegates today and demand they stand in support of the marriage equality bill.
Del. Don Dwyer, who has collaborated with an anti-gay hate group, is determined to stop the bill in the House:
Del. Don H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel), a staunch opponent of the same-sex marriage bill, said the continuing delays are "a good thing, when you look at it from my perspective."
"That means the votes aren't there," Dwyer said. [Washington Post, 3/2/11]
Maryland's marriage equality bill, HB 175, is in danger of stalling in the House Judiciary Committee. Two delegates, Del. Tiffany T. Alston (D-Prince George's) and Del. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore), skipped an attempt to bring the marriage equality bill to a vote yesterday, delaying the bill's move to the House floor until at least tomorrow.
While Del. Alston has announced that she will end up voting for the marriage equality bill, Del. Carter remains a holdout.
Del. Carter, who is a co-sponsor of the bill, openly said she was using her vote as "leverage" in order to secure support for her other projects which she considers to be "more important, or at least equally important" as marriage equality. From the March 2 Baltimore Sun:
"This is coming completely out of the blue," said Del. Keiffer J. Mitchell Jr., a Baltimore Democrat and outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage. "I've never heard of a co-sponsor trying to hold their own bill hostage."
Carter said there's no need to act quickly on gay marriage because the 90-day session is only about half over and lawmakers are in their first year of a four-year term.
She said she is "absolutely" willing to take a hit for withdrawing her support on gay marriage if it makes a larger point about her favored issues.
"I'm trying to leverage the vote to get something for my constituents," she said.
Dragging the marriage equality debate out for longer than necessary could prove to be a death sentence for the bill; aggressive right-wing lobbying efforts, supported by the work of the anti-gay hate group MassResistance, are threatening to undermine support for the bill.
There is no room for error in Maryland: The marriage equality bill needs 12 votes to get out of committee, and exactly 12 delegates (including Carter) have signaled their support for the bill. If Del. Carter chooses to keep holding the bill hostage, then this battle for marriage equality in Maryland has been lost.
If the bill makes it to the House floor, there are still significant concerns about its prospects for final passage.
One of the committee members, Del. Sam Arora (D-Montgomery County), has announced that he will vote for the bill in committee but is unsure if he will vote for the bill on the House floor. The bill remains several votes short of the 71 needed for final passage.
Del. Arora's contact information:
Delegate Sam Arora
The House bill originally attracted 59 co-sponsors, short of the 71 votes required for final passage.
The time for action is now. The National Organization of Marriage and their partnered anti-gay groups are working in overdrive, salivating at the thought of stopping marriage equality. Marylanders call your delegates today and demand they stand in support of the marriage equality bill.
For a list of all of the Maryland State Delegates, click here.