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Maryland Co-Sponsors of Gay Marriage Bill Flipping Sides

Maryland appeared poised to be the 6th state in America to pass a law allowing same-sex couples to marry. It passed the State Senate, which according to people I read was the biggest hurdle. The Governor, Martin O’Malley, promised to sign it. A quick trip through the House of Delegates, and marriage equality would be a reality.

And then, perhaps because passage neared reality, problems arose. Several Democrats, including some who were sponsors of the bill, began to waver. The House Judiciary Committee was the scene of a walkout from two co-sponsors, Del. Jill Carter of Baltimore and Tiffany Alston of Prince George’s County. And another Delegate, who apparently received a lot of progressive support within DC in his election campaign, backtracked as well. His name is Sam Arora.

Arora endorsed marriage equality during the campaign, and received lots of donations from gay progressives. Like Carter and Alston, he co-sponsored the bill. And now he’s claiming he never supported it. The reality of gay marriage’s passage has caused these Delegates to backtrack. They probably relied on the State Senate to kill the legislation, and when they didn’t, they suddenly had to change their tune.

This kind of betrayal is no longer acceptable in the Democratic Party, or at least it shouldn’t be. One prominent donor, Karl Frisch, wrote this open letter to Arora:

My friend Sam Arora campaigned in 2010 as an advocate for marriage equality in Maryland, and after he was elected he even co-sponsored legislation to that end.

My how things have changed […]

This morning, I spoke with a mutual friend who spoke yesterday to Sam about his pending vote. According to that friend, Sam told him point blank that he would be voting against marriage equality because he is born again and doesn’t want to redefine marriage.

I am sickened and I want my money back.

It may only be $100, but I refuse to support anyone who would align themselves with hate groups — yes, the national hate groups are in Maryland in force, and Sam is now aligning himself with them — especially after soliciting my support and the support of my community only months ago.

Frisch wants his money back, and then he wants to give it to a primary challenger to Arora for next year.

Arora isn’t the only Delegate breaking his promise – indeed, he has vowed to pass the bill out of committee and get it to the floor, unlike Carter and Alston – but he’s among the only ones elected with enormous progressive support from DC, including from the LGBT community. You can see his questionnaire to Equality Maryland, showing his explicit support for gay marriage, at the link.

Even the President has stopped defending DOMA in court. The country has largely moved on from this issue. But now hypocrites in Maryland are holding up an opportunity to put the state on the right side of history.

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David Dayen

David Dayen