Though few Democrats outwardly support marriage equality, they give the lgbt community the best chance for progress
By Steve Charing
Senior Political Analyst
Now that the primaries are over, which locally was highlighted by the defeat of William Donald Schaefer for Comptroller and the mixed results for the openly lgbt candidates, we must look towards November.
On the national front, the stage is now set for at least a partial recovery for our nation from the incompetence, arrogance and greed of the Republican Party. The Democrats are seeing their best opportunity in 12 years of regaining control of the House of Representatives and even a slim shot at re-taking the Senate.
President Bush’s considerable unpopularity, the war in Iraq, Katrina, energy and utility prices, the sluggish economy, deficits, wage stagnation, health care concerns, ethics violations, international standing, and a myriad other shortcomings, one might think the election would be a "gimmee" for the Dems.
The GOP will also cling to its proven mantra that they are better equipped to handle terrorism and national security. But lest we forget, the attacks on 9/11 occurred on Bush’s watch after disregarding high-level warnings about terrorists who are planning to use planes in their next operation.
Our irrational folly in Iraq has stretched our armed forces and budget so thin that we cannot deal with the real threats of Iran and North Korea. Moreover, the administration has failed to implement several key recommendations from the 9/11 Commission report. So how are we more secure?
But don’t overlook the GOP fear and smear machine that will spew venomous negative ads intended to pick apart and pulverize each Democratic candidate while exploiting, as you have seen, the tragedy of 9/11 for political gain.
For the gay community, the general elections on November 7 will be of most importance. Although lgbt-related issues are not high on the list of voters’ priorities, it is vital that we elect gay-friendly candidates. Yes, Democrats have not always been reliable and outspoken on pro-lgbt issues, but the GOP has been a major impediment to progress.
And that’s putting it mildly.
During the 2004 election cycle, gay-hater-in-charge, Karl Rove fueled anti-gay sentiment among the numerous bigots who align themselves with the Republican Party in scaring the public about the threat of "gay marriage" to society. He and his troops used this combustible issue to mobilize anti-gay religious conservatives to ensure passage of nearly a dozen state constitutions to ban same-sex marriage. And it worked.
When the Federal Marriage Amendment backed by President Bush came before both houses in Congress the past two years, most Republicans supported it. Although it was killed before it came to a vote, that’s not encouraging; the GOP lawmakers are clearly not on our side.
A Democratic-controlled House and/or Senate could produce some pro-lgbt legislation, such as repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" and enacting the Federal Employment Discrimination Act, even if they are long shots. With the GOP in power, there is zero chance of passage. Therefore, it is in the best interests of the lgbt community to consider voting for Democrats in Congressional races in November. A small chance is better than none.
Locally, we expect a no-holds-barred slugfest for U.S. Senate and Governor. Both are expected to be closely contested.
In the Ben Cardin vs. Michael Steele duel, it is essential that Maryland retains its Democratic seat in the Senate for the reasons stated above. Ben Cardin, while not a classic advocate of gay rights, still maintained a 77 rating out of 100 from the Human Rights Campaign during the last Congress. He is not supportive of same-sex marriage, but favors civil unions.
However, Steele is anti-gay, among other deficiencies, and would thwart any potential pro-lgbt legislation in Congress. He participated in a rally against same-sex marriage and made other derogatory anti-gay statements. We must not let him win.
The race for governor will be even more rough and ugly, and it has been brewing for four years.
Mayor O’Malley is not an proponent of same-sex marriage but would oppose an effort to pass a constitutional amendment that would ban it. He has been fully supportive of lgbt causes since his days on the city council and as mayor, and he favored the addition of transgendered individuals to the city’s anti-discrimination law. Furthermore, he has become a regular speaker at Pride, where except for one appearance by Kurt Schmoke, no other Baltimore mayor had. He also was a guest speaker at last fall’s Equality Maryland’s Jazz Brunch.
Governor Ehrlich has always tilted towards anti-gay ever since his terms in the House of Delegates and in Congress. He considers advancements in gay rights as "special rights," though there were some gay members in his inner circle. As far as I know, he has never met with the Log Cabin Republicans on an official basis.
Ehrlich strongly opposes "gay marriage" and would not allow it on his "watch." Ehrlich vetoed the Medical-Decision-making Act in 2005 but went along with a revised version this past legislative session.
On the other hand, Ehrlich signed into law hate crimes legislation to help protect gays and lesbians, fired a transportation board appointee for making anti-gay remarks on a radio station, and appointed an openly gay judge. I believe these last two actions were done to burnish his moderate credentials as he entered his re-election phase of his seemingly ongoing campaign.
This upcoming election in Maryland is critical for gays as a potential backlash from the Appeals Court ruling on the marriage lawsuit could come down this winter. We will need friends in the Governor’s mansion as well as the legislature to prevent a constitutional amendment.
Nationally Democrats should be motivated to try to take back the government and change the direction of America. Republicans will also be motivated to prevent the Democrats from recapturing the government and relinquishing the power they thrive on. That’s the battle come November.