Friday, March 11, 2011

They Just Don't Want The Bill (Update)

It never really changes, does it?

Two weeks ago Maryland's state Senate passed legislation approving same sex marriage by a vote of 25-21. The bill is currently being debated by the lower house and is, was, expected to be put up for a vote today. It's prospects for approval are unclear. Delegates previously on record for supporting marriage equality, even those who originally co-sponsored the bill, have backtracked, deterred by opposition in their districts, largely from church groups. And of course this is a very proper and necessary feature of our democracy, that legislation not be rushed through, that citizens from all walks of life have a chance to become aware and knowledgeable about the various courses of action being undertaken by their government.

At the same time, allow me to call BS. Marriage equality, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, doesn't pick anyone's pocket or break anyone's leg. Nor would it cause anyone to suffer. Nonetheless, there are people who just "don't want the bill".

So nothing ever really changes. Slow, hard-fought, incremental process is made on some matters. But if it appears someone else might get a right I reserve for myself, that I cannot abide. Yes, it's true, a certain legislative act might not hurt me in any material way, it might not take money from me or cause me direct injury. It might not even cause suffering to someone, or something else. But it would nonetheless offend me, it would present a different reality than what I subscribe to, it would lessen the degree of control I feel in this chaotic world. So, and perhaps even because, it would help others be happy and more fulfilled, I just "don't want it".

So, yeah, I'm calling bullshit on Delegate Alston's reversal of course in apparent acceptance of her community's mood. She, and the state's citizens, deserve a better argument, a better opposition, than just "not wanting the bill".

The failure of the anti-gay marriage contingent to come up with a reasonable, coherent argument was on full display during the proceedings in which a federal court heard evidence on California's notorious Proposition 8. Perhaps better publicized hearings and debate in Maryland would have helped highlight the opposition's lack of thoughtfullness on this issue. And maybe that opportunity will present itself again, either in future bills or in a referendum, should matters come to that.

But for now, the timid, uncritical acceptance of prejudice by some Maryland delegates is enough to make me sick.

Update: There was apparently not enough support in the House, so the delegates have kicked the bill back to the Judiciary Committee, effectively killing the effort on behalf of marriage equality for the year.

1 comment:

DaveS said...

Oh no! Bummer to hear this news about the Maryland assembly. C'mon assembly folks, vote for the bill and make a lot of people's lives better! (without hurting anyone, as Sen. Bulworth eloguently noted)

In good news, great to see all these recent posts from the good Senator!