Given the phenomenon of Tim Kaine — which continues to fulfill expectations — and Democrats’ lack of any coherent strategy on gay issues (other than running in the other direction), I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the front-runner for the Maryland Democrat’s gubernatorial nomination can’t give a straight answer on a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in the state.
Progressive Maryland, which calls itself a “grassroots advocacy organization,” distributed candidate questionnaires to gubernatorial hopefuls. One question asked if the candidate would oppose a constitutional amendment to ban equal marriage rights.
O’Malley “sidestepped” the question, according to Dan Furmansky, Equality Maryland’s executive director.
Progressive Maryland refused to release O’Malley’s questionnaire because he did not give “yes” or “no” answers as he was required to do, the group said. Duncan’s responses are posted on the organization’s website, but O’Malley’s are not.
O’Malley, the mayor of Baltimore, has a record largely supportive of gay rights, but supports civil unions instead of full marriage rights for gay couples. He issued a statement about same-sex marriage after a Baltimore Circuit Court judge ruled in January that it is unconstitutional to ban gay couples from marrying.
The thing is, as the Blade article notes, O’Malley has a fair-to-middling record on gay issues. And he’s Democrat up against an incumbent Republican with a pretty big war chest, in a state where recent court case pushed same-sex marriage into the spotlight, though Democrats managed to keep the amendment off the legislative calendar for this year. But I’m not sure that’s reason enough for O’Malley to be in the “muddled middle” when it comes to the marriage issue.
The reason I think O’Malley could at least give an answer similar to the one he gave as the mayor of Baltimore is because he’s also running in a state where the legislature passed several amendments granting protections to same-sex couples only to have the Republican governor veto them. And it’s also a state in which the same Republican governor felt the need to promise his own bill to replace what he vetoed, and then did so with a measure that actually undermined the reasons for his earlier veto.
My point is that the state legislature — elected by the people of Maryland — agreed that same-sex couples ought to have a least a few legally recognized rights and protections, and the Republican governor felt the need to do a near 180 on his previous statements when he vetoed those rights and protections. Both of these things suggest to me that at least in Maryland a good number of voters believe that same-sex couples deserve some rights and protections, and even the incumbent Republican governor sees the need to at least appear to support some rights and protections for our families. More to the point, he can’t afford to appear unabashedly anti-gay.
In this climate, O’Malley’s failure to even make in support of those rights and protections, as a candidate for governor, speaks to a kind of cowardice that mystifies me and, apparently, people like Paul Yandura. It’s one thing to suggest that a candidate in a major “red state,” Tim Kaine, might have to distance himself from some core Democratic constituencies, but when a candidate in a state that isn’t nearly as anti-gay as Virginia can’t even come out with a statement in favor of some rights and protections — not necessarily in favor of same-sex marriage — I just gotta wonder.
Has it gotten to the point where even if we’re not asking a candidate to come out in favor of same-sex marriage, it’s asking to much to say that our families deserve at least some rights and protections, or to at least speak out against writing discrimination into the constitution? Is a non-answer really the best we can expect anymore?
Contrary to the leader of O’Malley’s gay task force I think Democrats give even more “fuel to somebody else’s fire” when they sidestep an issue like this, rather than speak their values in a way that every day American voters can understand. If Democrats can’t do that much, then they’ve already lost before the first vote is cast, if you ask me. Because, as I’ve said before, if this trend continues the ultimate outcome of the “Republican revolution” may be a more conservative Democratic party. And just maybe in the end both parties will be equally bad on gay issues.