January 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm EDT | by Steve Charing
Lawmakers weigh in on Md. marriage bill
Luke Clippinger, gay news, gay politics dc

Openly gay Md. lawmaker Luke Clippinger is optimistic. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Just as the 2012 Maryland General Assembly got underway, Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller and House Speaker Michael Busch—both Democrats—appeared on the Marc Steiner radio show to discuss the chances of marriage equality passing during the session. Busch, who represents Anne Arundel County, sees same-sex marriage as inevitable. But he said, “You will have to convince about 10 people” who ostensibly favor civil unions but not marriage to change their position from last year.

For his part, Miller, who represents Calvert County, opposes same-sex marriage, calling himself a “traditionalist.” He would not stand in the way of a vote nor would he try to influence the outcome, he said. Miller conceded the 25-21 vote in the Senate last year to advance the measure would likely hold up again this time. However, he warned that if the legislation passes both houses and is signed into law it will likely be overturned through a referendum.

Miller predicted that “a coming together of Evangelicals, Catholics, African Americans” will oppose the measure. “If it goes to polls, the other side is more motivated, and I think they will get their voters out, and I think it goes down to defeat.”

Luke Clippinger, one of eight openly gay or lesbian members of the Maryland Legislature—the highest total of any state in the U.S.—is optimistic the marriage bill will pass.

“The establishment of Marylanders for Marriage Equality is a big step forward as we move forward on marriage equality legislation in the 2012 session,” Clippinger said. “The work that is being done now is laying down the foundation for defending the bill at referendum, if the legislation actually goes to referendum. The coalition has field organizers in key districts. The coalition also has the benefit of polling, of media advisers, of people with statewide political experience, and of a finance committee that has already raised a considerable amount of money.  All of these things—field, polling, media, experience, finance—are essential parts of a successful campaign and they are already in place.”  He added, “We are only hampered by those people who do nothing other than doubt that we can do this.”

Clippinger, an assistant state’s attorney from Anne Arundel County, is in his second year as a delegate. He represents the 46th District that encompasses such southeastern Baltimore neighborhoods as Canton, Little Italy, Federal Hill, Fells Point, Patterson Park and Locust Point.

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