Looks like I’m gonna be a lobbyist for a day. Just a couple of nights ago I went to a local Equality Maryland meeting about their upcoming lobby day in February. The guy leading the meeting happened to be one of the plaintiff’s in a court case challenging Maryland’s anti-gay marriage law, and he stressed the importance of the lobby day was to head-off a potential constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in response to the ruling, which he said could happen any day now.
Well, it happened.
A Baltimore judge ruled this morning that Maryland’s law banning same-sex marriage “cannot withstand constitutional challenge,” throwing open the possibility of a ferocious legislative battle over a constitutional amendment on the issue.
Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock, acknowledging her ruling’s impact, immediately stayed the decision, and the state attorney general’s office has voiced plans for an appeal. But the decision comes just as the Maryland General Assembly has convened for its 90-day session, and promises to refocus the legislature’s attention squarely on the issue.
“The evidence is now on the table. We must pass a constitutional amendment,” said Del. Donald H. Dwyer Jr. (R-Anne Arundel). “This issue is not for the courts to decide.”
Maryland has had a law in effect since 1973 defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Nineteen gay men and women filed suit last year, arguing that the law was unconstitutional.
I wasn’t sure that night, whether I wanted to do the lobby day or not. (BTW, I’ve got a post “in the oven” about whether this sort of thing should be an issue “for the courts to decide.”) But now I think I just might do it.
It’s a bit weird, after ten+ years of living in D.C., to even have representatives to lobby. I did lobby days for the Georgia Equality Project when I lived down there, but that was pretty much an exercise in futility. At the meeting I met my delegate, along with his partner and their adorable 2-year-old daughter, and was relieved to hear him assure us that he’s confident we have the votes to head off an amendment in both houses of the assembly.
And, given that last year the assembly passed several gay rights bills and recently overrode the Republican governor’s veto, I think he may be right. There’s reason to hope here, particularly if what he said about Democratic leadership in the state being clear that having an amendment on the ballot in an election year would be a disaster for them. Most likely the marriage case will go straight to the Court of Appeals (Maryland’s version of a supreme court) so a decision may come down later this year.
So, I may be on my way to Annapolis. My delegate assured us that the other delegates and the senator for our district all “get it.” But, given the stakes, it can’t hurt to remind them.