The Maryland Senate approved a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage last night in a 25-22 vote. Woo-hoo!
Break out the crabs! (Oops, that sounds terrible.) Last Friday the bill passed in the House with a much closer margin, 72-67. Thankfully, we won't have a repeat of the ridiculous events that transpired in New Jersey last week; Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley has promised to sign the bill into law. Less thankfully, we might have a repeat of the ridiculous events that transpired in Maine two-and-a-half years ago, if the bill's opponents have their way:
Opponents of same-sex marriage have until June 30 to collect the 55,736 signatures needed to put a referendum on the ballot in November. Upholding the law on a popular vote, experts say, will require its supporters to navigate the twisted pathways of race and religion that have stymied similar efforts in the past, most notably in California.
That "twisted pathways of race" bit is a reference to the theory that Prop. 8 only passed in California because of black voters who came out in large numbers to vote for Barack Obama. That theory is hooey, mind you: if a bill passes with 52.24% in favor and your state has an African-American population that only comprises 6.2% of the population, it seems like laying the outcome on their shoulders kind of misses the bigger point. If all black voters had voted "no" on Prop. 8, would it have passed? Probably not. But then again, if all white voters voted no, it also would not have passed! You can probably stick any demographic in that slot and the sentence is still true! It's a fun game.
Maryland, of course, has a much larger black population, so you better believe you'll be hearing a lot about this concern if the new law is put on the ballot. (It will get tiresome. It already is.) Instead of spending time worrying about that, we should just focus on getting voters, like all voters of all different kinds, to support marriage equality. Because while the general trend is positive, the precedents in California and Maine are enough to make anyone uncertain about the law's future.