August 6, 2010 at 8:15 am EDT | by Kevin Naff
O’Malley flip-flopping on marriage bill?

The Equality Federation is holding its annual meeting in Baltimore this weekend. The association of statewide LGBT rights groups held a rally downtown last night to celebrate the Prop 8 ruling in California and, later, a reception for activists and donors that attracted a good crowd of D.C. politicos.

Instead of welcoming the activists to the “Free State,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley threw cold water on the festivities, as WBAL-TV reported a startling change in his position on a same-sex marriage bill. O’Malley told me in a 2007 interview that he would sign a marriage bill if it reached his desk. He has repeated that pledge many times since.

But WBAL’s Dave Collins reported last night that the governor’s press office stated, “O’Malley would give a same-sex marriage bill careful consideration, but stopped short of saying he’d sign it.”

Earlier this week, I contacted O’Malley’s campaign seeking comment on the Prop 8 ruling.

“As you know the governor supports civil unions, but has also always opposed any constitutional amendment in Maryland that would ban same-sex marriage,” was the reply.

The civil unions ship has sailed — it’s 2010, not 2001. In California, a federal judge first appointed by Ronald Reagan and later confirmed under George H.W. Bush has ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. And a Republican administration (Schwarzenegger) declined to defend Prop 8 in court. And, later, the Republican mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, apologized for not supporting marriage equality sooner.

Contrast that with the behavior of Maryland’s Democratic governor, who won’t expend an ounce of political capital to advance marriage rights and who instead backs the second-class status of civil unions. And now his press office, in the heat of a re-election campaign against an anti-gay opponent, appears to have forgotten O’Malley’s pledge to sign a marriage equality bill if it reaches his desk.

In San Diego, Mayor Sanders was inspired to open his mind because his daughter is a lesbian. O’Malley has not had a similar epiphany, despite the fact that his own brother, Paul, is gay.

LGBT donors must develop a conscience and resist pouring money into O’Malley’s campaign. The Blade will be tracking donations and publicizing the names of LGBT donors to his campaign. And Equality Maryland should resist the pressure to endorse a candidate who would relegate his own brother to second-class status under the law.

Kevin Naff is the editor and a co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication, founded in 1969.

  • I wonder what the alternative to supporting O’Malley would be… Ehrlich? While you remain unsure whether Governor O’Malley would sign a marriage equality bill, you can be certain the a Governor Ehrlich would NOT. Yes, we need to hold our representatives accountable, but we still need to make the best choice between the candidates. Let’s not put the cart before the horse, either. We have to first get the marriage bills out of the House and Senate committees and get it to pass a full vote. Let’s focus on getting rid of those representatives that are clearly opposed to marriage equality so that we can actually get a marriage bill to the governor’s desk and hold him to task at that point.

  • So what’s the plan? – seriously. How to make a/any candidate live up to his vows? Seems impossible, except for gays to vow to withhold votes for those who withhold their votes for us. In the end, Conservatives will never help Gays.

  • Don't Take Us for Granted!

    JAM – It is going to take a lot of hard work to get the bills out of the General Assembly. We need to know that the governor will live up to his promise to sign the bill. Furthermore, the leadership is going to be hesitant to let the bill move if they think it will be vetoed.

    customartist – I am sick and tired of hearing “what’s the alternative” as if because Ehrlich is so bad, O’Malley can do and say whatever he wants with no consequence. He has to be held accountable for breaking his promise. Sure we may push the “yes” button on him in November, but we do not have to donate or volunteer AND we should not sit idly by as we are sacrificed because he thinks he can gain a few votes.

  • The sad thing is that O’Malley is not gaining anything by spouting off yet again about being for civil unions, instead of marriage. He has signed several bills to provide relationship recognition and supported domestic partner benefits. So the anti-equality folks are already against him. By backpedaling on his commitment to sign the marriage equality bill he is simply insulting and upsetting the gay community. This could lose him voters, since mid-term elections already have low turnout. This will definitely lose him donors and supporters. He should help himself by standing by the LGBT community so that we are able to stand by him – not just with votes, but also with money and time. It is the good, old “help us, help you”.

  • I believe an examination of Governor O’Malley’s record is more than adequate to motivate any LGBT individual to vote for his re-election. During his term, he has signed Domestic Partnership legislation into law, enacted Domestic Partner benefits for State Employees, barred discrimination against transgender State Employees and taken action to change regulations to comply with the Attorney General’s order to recognize same-sex marriages performed out of state.

    I do not believe we would have made ANY of these advances had Governor Ehrlich been elected for a second term.

    Additionally, I believe this dialogue should refrain from involving any members of the Governor’s family.

    I urge your support of Governor O’Malley for reelection in November as I believe he will continue to support the LGBT community.

    Cambridge, MD

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