A senior adviser to Maryland Del. Sam Arora has abruptly resigned in protest over Arora’s vote against the state’s same-sex marriage bill.
Joshua Lapidus, Arora’s legislative director, quit Friday night just after the marriage vote in a scathing resignation letter obtained by the Blade.
“I respect you and your beliefs, however I cannot respect your decision to place personal religious belief over the roles and responsibilities of the stewardship the people of District 19 entrusted unto you,” Lapidus wrote. He added, “It saddens me that you are standing against the tide of history and ending your career over an issue that will no doubt be decided in the affirmative, with or without your vote, over the next couple years. So, I write this letter to inform you that if you vote don’t vote for HB 438 l can no longer work under your employ.”
Arora campaigned in 2010 in support of the bill and sponsored the measure last year, before suddenly changing his position and opposing it by the end of the 2011 legislative session. He voted against it Friday.
Arora continues to decline interview requests, but he issued a brief statement to the Blade in response to Lapidus’s resignation.
“I don’t comment on personnel issues,” Arora wrote. “That said: Josh continues to be a friend, and I wish him well.”
Another one-time friend of Arora’s, columnist and Democratic strategist Karl Frisch, praised Lapidus for stepping down.
“I think it’s gutsy,” Frisch said. “It’s the right move and shows that we had allies working on our behalf in his office.”
Frisch, a D.C. resident, donated $100 to Arora’s campaign in 2010 and said he knew Arora socially for several years. But after rumors emerged that Arora’s marriage position was changing, Frisch said his calls and emails went unreturned.
“I feel personally betrayed,” Frisch said. “I don’t take candidates’ word for it — he was listed as a co-sponsor of the bill and filled out an Equality Maryland questionnaire [on marriage]. … I’m used to politicians lying, I’m not used to being lied to by a friend.”
After Friday’s vote, Frisch said he took part in a conference call with a group of “national and Maryland-based political operatives to discuss every tool we can deploy to send Sam packing in 2014.”
He declined to reveal the specifics of what was discussed or who else participated on the call. But Frisch added that he’s heard that Gov. Martin O’Malley personally lobbied Arora and reportedly told him that his career is over if “he doesn’t vote the right way.”
Frisch said he supports Jay Hutchins for the District 19 seat in 2014. Hutchins ran and lost in the Democratic primary in 2010. He recently began recruiting supporters for a 2014 race.
It’s unclear exactly why Arora switched his position on the marriage bill, though the speculation is that his religious beliefs played a part in the decision to vote no. Lapidus addressed the religion issue in his resignation letter.
“We have a right to be religious,” he wrote. “You have a right to disagree with the marital union between not just a man and a woman. But we do not have the right to impose our religious beliefs on the people of Maryland and impede societal progress. You will be on the wrong side of history and l will not have any part in it.”