Saturday, 11 September 2010

Marriage Equality Inching Closer in Maryland, New York?

Just as “gay marriage” is receding as an electoral issue on the US right, it is becoming an issue on the left. Two stated where this of current importance are New York and Maryland.

In Maryland, two recent news reports suggest the signs are promising for a successful attempt at gay marriage  legislation next year. Governor O’Malley appears to have read the tea leaves which show steadily increasing public support for marriage equality. He has stated that if re-elected, even though he would personally prefer to see civil unions, he will sign a gay marriage bill if the legislature presents one.  In a tough year for Democrats, he is not exactly a shoo-in for re-election, but the authoritative Cook Political Report says the race is “leaning” that way. So, the next question is, will the legislature play ball?

Hovernor O’Malley – Gay Ally?

Here too the signs are promising. Attempts at marriage legislation have regularly been launched, and as regularly have stalled.  The prospects for next year though, may be brighter. There are more out LGBT candidates than ever before standing for election, and several have an excellent chance of electoral success. It is entirely possible that the new state legislature could have a stronger caucus of LGBT and gay –friendly legislators. Their success could also send a message to those previously neutral or mildly opposed. Expect a strong push for either full marriage equality, or for civil unions as a compromise, in Maryland next year.

Meanwhile in New York, where the legislative paralysis in the state senate last year was largely precipitated by the fierce opposition of some Democrat senators to the proposals for gay marriage, the backlash has been fierce. Several initiatives to “take back New York” have seen strong primary challenges against the Democrat senators who opposed equality, and especially against two of the ringleaders, Senators Espada and Ruben Diaz Snr, in SD’s 32 and 33.  The outcome of next week’s primaries should be watched closely. If at least one of these, and some other opponents, are booted out, expect a dramatic shift in the political mood, and a much more realistic legislative attempt to achieve marriage equality next year. If both survive, equality will not come to NY state by legislative means for a long while yet.  

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