January 21, 2006

Dancing with Politicians

Yesterday, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge M. Brooke Murdock struck down our Maryland law which bans same-sex marriage. She called the 1973 statute discriminatory and one that “cannot withstand constitutional challenge.” But she immediately stayed her ruling pending the inevitable challenge.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) expressed dismay with the court at an afternoon news conference. He hinted that he would get behind a drive to amend the constitution, saying he would ‘take the appropriate steps to protect marriage.’

‘Obviously, I’m disappointed,’ Ehrlich said. ‘Again, Maryland is in the national limelight, and it’s not positive.’

The Washington Post

Oh, I don’t know about that Governor Erlich. Think of all the money this might generate (to say nothing of good will and fairness). Why, I’m thinking of opening my own special Bed and Breakfast for all my out-of-state gay and lesbian friends. It will be great to see all of you at Chez Gates. Leave it to the courts to encourage you to come visit us.

And, it’s so much fun to watch the Governor and the rest of his possible successors rush into this political vortex, scrambling to position themselves at just the right point along the family value spectrum. It’s a varitable political Hokey Pokey.

Let’s see now, there’s the Bush-Schwarzenegger version: I will not be moved, no matter what the circumstances are. “You put your right foot in and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey and you pander all around. That’s what it’s all about.”

Then there is the John Kerry smack-dab-in-the-middle version which Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, both vying for Erlich’s job this year, are dancing to. You put your center foot in and you shake it all about. You do the Hokey Pokey making sure you don’t offend. That’s what it’s all about. Accept, on principle, the right for same sex couples to the same legal health care and decision-making rights married couples have. But state loud and clear your conviction that marriage is between a man and a woman in order to keep moderates (both left and right) happy.

Then there is the European Union model, as outlined in T.R. Reid’s book The United States of Europe: legally marriage is a civil affair, not a religious one. Yes, couples still have ceremonies in churches, synagogues, or mosques. But the percentage who do so is much less than here in the States. Couples get the state sanctioned benefits of marriage only through the civil ceremony. Religious doctrine and mores do not mix with the legality of marriage.

Just as the E.U. model suggests all committed couples deserve the protection and privileges of the state. And all couples, homosexual or heterosexual should be treated equally. It is a clearly stated separation of church and state. Unfortunately, in this country that line is quite blurred, leading to the political posturing we are witnessing.

Suddenly, the 2006 Maryland Gubenatorial campaign is looking a lot more exciting. ABC’s Dancing with the Stars has nothing on our megahit Dancing with Politicians.

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