In a column published in the Baltimore Sun, former Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. predicted that “a coalition of Catholics, African-Americans, Hispanics and conservatives from both sides of the aisle” would, through a referendum, decisively overturn the Civil Marriage Protection Act signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley on March 1.
Ehrlich, a one-term Republican governor, opined, “I have little patience with both extremes: those who refuse to recognize the existence of gay relationships in a free, pluralistic society and those (mostly secular culture warriors) who insist on an aggressive attack on anything and everyone supportive of traditional marriage. Neither position advances the intellectual argument.”
Ehrlich acknowledged that he took heat from the right during his tenure as governor stemming from his appointing openly gay people to senior positions.
He dismissed the notion that marriage for same-sex couples should be equated with civil rights. He is not convinced that being gay is an “intrinsic characteristic” deserving of civil rights protections as is the case for race, gender and ethnicity. Ehrlich prefers to leave that debate to theologians and scientists.
Nonetheless, Ehrlich touted the fact that he signed a bill that added sexual orientation as a protected class under Maryland criminal law with respect to crimes committed against gay people. And he noted the national progress in combating “blatant discrimination” against gays, bullying and government intrusion into the bedroom. But he draws the line at same-sex marriage. “Traditional marriage is integral to our Judeo-Christian heritage,” he wrote.