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Gay Marriage Bill Dies in Deep Blue Maryland

Reality check.

1:11 PM, Mar 14, 2011 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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The Democratic leadership in Maryland's House of Delegates announced Friday night that it didn't have the votes to pass a gay marriage bill. The Associated Press reports:  

The speaker of Maryland's House vowed that Democrats would try again next year to pass legislation legalizing gay marriage, but the intense lobbying by faith groups against the measure in recent weeks shows that it won't be easy, even in a state known for its liberal politics.

A loose coalition of Democratic legislators failed to cobble together enough votes to overcome opposition from Republicans and religious groups, including the Catholic church and many black congregations, to make Maryland the sixth state to legalize gay marriage.

Lawmakers had planned to vote on the bill in the House, but it was withdrawn instead Friday and effectively killed for the year.

This line is as bizarre as it is priceless: "A loose coalition of Democratic legislators failed to cobble together enough votes to overcome opposition from Republicans and religious groups." It makes it seem as though the fight was a partisan battle that simply pitted Democrats who favored gay marriage against Republicans who opposed it. 

In reality, the only reason the bill died is because at least one-third of the Democratic caucus in a deep blue state opposed it. That's right: there are 43 Republicans in the Maryland House of Delegates and 98 Democrats. (That's an interesting little fact not included in the AP's report.)

The events in Maryland underscore how, despite the committment from the left to gay marriage, the issue still deeply divides the Democratic party. Maryland follows in the footsteps of New YorkNew JerseyMaine, and California to become the latest blue state to oppose gay marriage. Polling shows younger voters favor gay marriage more and more, yet same-sex marriage has only been implemented through the legislative process in just two states: Vermont and New Hampshire (and at least a majority of the latter's new legislature now opposes gay marriage). If social issues don't really matter like they used to, shouldn't some more strongly Democratic legislatures be able to legalize same-sex marriage?

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