Posts about Same-sex Marriage
This election, Maryland voters face several ballot questions, ranging from civil rights to gambling. These are important issues which will have consequences for the quality of life far beyond Election Day.
Greater Greater Washington recommends Maryland voters support questions 3 (removing elected officials), 4 (Dream Act), and 6 (same-sex marriage), and reject the legislature's redistricting plan by voting against question 5.
We did not consider questions 1 or 2, which would require judges serving on the Orphans' Court in Prince George's (question 1) and Baltimore County (question 2) to be members of the Maryland Bar in good standing. We are also not endorsing a position on question 7 (gambling expansion) because our contributors were divided on the issue.
Question 3 (removing elected officials): We recommend voting FOR Question 3.
This question will amend the Maryland Constitution to make it easier to remove elected officials from office once they've been convicted of or plead guilty to certain crimes.
Two recent cases involving officials have resulted in situations that hurt government and left some residents without representation. When Leslie Johnson was convicted on corruption charges in Prince George's, she refused to resign, and Maryland's laws only allowed her ouster upon sentencing. For several months, her council district in Prince George's was effectively without representation.
This change may not stop corruption. But it will make it easier to recover when an elected official does wrong.
Question 4 (Dream Act): We recommend voting FOR Question 4.
Education is a fundamental building block of our democracy. Allowing undocumented immigrants who were brought as children to the United States to attend state universities as residents will create more opportunities for these young people to join our society.
The Dream Act will allow those undocumented immigrants who grow up in Maryland to attend a state university at the in-state tuition rate if they get good grades in high school and spend 2 years in a community college. Opening up this opportunity for our neighbors will grow the Maryland economy and will open up new paths for immigrants who had no say in where they grew up.
Question 5 (redistricting): We recommend voting AGAINST Question 5.
Marylanders are being asked to approve or disapprove a Congressional redistricting proposal. The legislative maps drawn by the Maryland legislature are horribly gerrymandered. For proof, take a look at Maryland's 3rd District, which Comedy Central named the "ugliest congressional district in the nation."
The authors of this map create what would likely be a new Democratic seat by drawing oddly-shaped districts to divide more conservative voters. This kind of gerrymandering is bad when Republicans do it, and it's bad when Democrats do it.
To make matters worse, it also splits minority groups, making it harder for them to participate effectively in the democratic process. It splits communities, so that members of a single community have multiple disparate representatives who also serve voters of very distant communities with very different needs.
Question 6 (same-sex marriage): We strongly urge you to support marriage for all families by voting FOR Question 6.
In the legislative session earlier this year, the General Assembly courageously passed a bill to allow same-sex couples to marry in the Free State. While we oppose the idea that civil rights should be subject to a popular vote, opponents of gay marriage gathered enough signatures to put this issue on the ballot.
Gay couples deserve the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. Maryland's expansion of marriage equality will not affect religious institutions, because protections were specifically written into the bill. Equality will mean stronger homes and stronger families for the 17,000 same-sex couples living in the state.
A vote upholding the law will also send a message to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender teens in the state that they are full members of society, too. Their fellow citizens support them and their right to love whomever they want.
Maryland's LGBT families share the same values as the straight couples in the state. They deserve the same legal recognition of their relationships from the state as well.
Question 7 (gambling expansion): Our contributors split evenly on this issue, and therefore we are not endorsing any position.
Replenishing the education trust fund could provide Maryland with the money it needs to move ahead with projects the Purple Line. However, gambling has adverse social consequences, and would be unlikely to promote sustainable economic development in Prince George's County. Voters should weigh these and others factors themselves in deciding how to vote.
These are the official endorsements of Greater Greater Washington, written by one or more contributors. Active contributors and editors voted on endorsements, and any endorsement reflects a strong majority in favor of endorsing for or against each issue.
Last month, Maryland gave nearly 17,000 same-sex couples the right to marry. We applaud the legislature's action and the support of Governor O'Malley in passing this law. But the hard work is not done.
This month, the opponents to Maryland's same-sex marriage law are collecting signatures to force the issue to a referendum in November in the hopes of repealing the law. We ask you to oppose the petition, but if the petition is successful, we hope that you will vote in favor of equal marriage in November.
We support the right of all couples to marry. Building stronger families helps us build a stronger region, and moreover, supporting equality is the right thing to do.
Not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the 'wrong kind of person' for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.There are many reasons to support civil marriage for all. There's the simple issue of fairness: the state should not give a privilege to one group of people and deny it to another.
Equal marriage is also the best way to give all Maryland families the financial and legal protections they need to build a life. Committed couples who are unable to marry must to make financial sacrifices that opposite-sex couples do not have to make.
A 2009 study by the New York Times revealed that a same-sex couple will spend $467,000 more than a comparable heterosexual couple throughout their lives, in extra taxes, health insurance when an employer doesn't cover same-sex partners, and being ineligible for Social Security or pension benefits.
Without the ability to marry, committed gay and lesbian couples must set up a legal framework to reproduce the protections straight couples take for granted. These extra legal efforts are expensive and are only available to a small segment of the population.
Maryland State Delegate Mary Washington, the only openly gay black delegate in Maryland, makes it clear that there is a socioeconomic argument for gay marriage. "This is also about protecting our families, our poor and working-class people," she told the Washington Post in February.
Beyond economic arguments, studies show that children do better with married parents than with unmarried parents. And we've seen how communities that create an intolerant atmosphere towards gays or any minority group can destroy the well-being of its youth, gay or straight.
Civil unions, even when they're written to be "all-but-marriage," do not grant the same rights and protections. A separate word is not an equal word in practice. In New Jersey, where civil unions were explicitly written to provide the same rights as marriage, a state commission has found that civil unions have not fulfilled their goal. The "second-class status" of relationship created in New Jersey is hard to understand and often requires much more legal work in order to grant couples similar protection to their opposite-sex counterparts.
A referendum is not the appropriate forum to decide the rights of any minority group. As founding father James Madison discussed, in a system of direct democracy there is "nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party ... [and such systems] have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property". In contrast, representative democracy allows for more measured, cool considerations of issues affecting the rights of minorities.
While Greater Greater Washington traditionally writes most about the physical shape of our neighborhoods, such as transportation infrastructure and buildings, we care about all policies that affect our communities. Encouraging healthier families of all types and all gender mixes is a fundamental part of building healthy communities. On the flip side, discrimination affects all of our lives for a long time, and our cities, too.
Equal marriage is a necessary step to extend important protections under the law to all people. While Maryland's legislature has taken a great step forward, it will likely come down to the citizens of the Free State to determine whether same-sex couples will retain the right to marry.
If you're a Marylander, we encourage you to support equal marriage by not signing the petition to bring it to a referendum. And if a vote does occur, we ask you to vote to uphold the legislature's equal marriage bill this November.
This is the official endorsement of Greater Greater Washington, written by one or more contributors. Active contributors and editors voted on endorsements, and any endorsement reflects a strong majority or greater in favor of endorsing (or, in this case, endorsing against) the initiative.
The Democratic at-large candidates for DC Council, incumbent Vincent Orange, and challengers Sekou Biddle, E. Gail Anderson Holness, and Peter Shapiro, talked about transportation, housing, land use and some social issues at last night's forum at the Black Cat on 14th Street.
Here is the full video from the event:
Small business: As in many forums, most candidates gave few specifics, and in most cases didn't sharply disagree with one another. For example, I asked all candidates to talk about a time they'd helped a local business directly. I asked this first of Vincent Orange, who often touts his work bringing Home Depot to the Rhode Island Avenue Metro area but when talking about small business, speaks much more in generalities.
Orange and the other candidates launched into generic, prepared statements about the value of small business. Sekou Biddle's answer, that he helps them most of all by patronizing them, was the most responsive. Orange was, however, able to name a lot of local businesses once pressed.
Affordable housing: Peter Shapiro had thoughtful recommendations for how to promote housing affordability, drawing on his experience with Arts District Hyattsville when he served in Prince George's County. Perhaps because of his experience as an elected official in the past, Shapiro gave more specifics about actions he has taken or policies he would implement on this and some other issues.
All candidates raised their hands when asked if they would restore the Housing Production Trust Fund; hopefully Orange, in this budget cycle, and whoever wins the race, in the future, follows through on that promise.
Ethics: Shapiro went the furthest on campaign finance reform, criticizing the current council for not taking stronger steps and arguing it should pursue a public financing system for elections. Biddle called for reforms to money order contributions, the source of the latest scandal.
Orange, as he has in the past, emphasized his advocacy for banning outside employment for councilmembers, but hasn't agreed to support limits on corporate contributions. He defended his decision not to cosponsor Mary Cheh's recent campaign finance bill as "self-serving," since Cheh holds other jobs as a law professor at GW and teaching bar review courses. (Tommy Wells, the one co-sponsor, does not have any outside employment).
Transportation: During a section on transportation, it came out that of the candidates, only Sekou Biddle is a member of Capital Bikeshare, and only he and Peter Shapiro subscribe to Zipcar. Biddle even pulled out his CaBi key, on his keychain, and his Zipcar membership card right on the stage.
I asked candidates about how we could help cyclists and drivers better understand each other's needs and concerns. Without being "gotcha" about it, I wanted to give Vincent Orange a chance to speak to what he had learned from the January 1st episode where he parked in the 15th Street bike lane, was called out on Twitter, and apologized. Orange said that he hadn't realized on which side of the white stanchions he should park, and that now he does.
Biddle proposed having driver education include information on how to deal with bicycle infrastructure and people riding bikes. This would only be a small start, since many DC drivers move in from other states, but it was a thoughtful response on the topic.
Biddle was also most able to talk about the role of buses in helping connect communities. I asked candidates to name a bus line that they feel works well in DC, partly to see how many could name a bus line at all. Orange gave an example of a bus line, the X2, but couldn't name it without help from a staffer who shouted it out unprompted.
Holness, marriage, and the Redskins: Dr. E. Gail Anderson Holness, generally considered a long-shot candidate, gave some reasons to appreciate her candidacy, but also some reasons for concern. As a resident of Ward 1, she lives in the most urban neighborhood among the candidates, and says she rides a bicycle and takes many forms of transit regularly. She was able to name many bus lines and talk about them in depth.
However, Holness was the only candidate of the four not to encourage Maryland residents to vote to keep the new same-sex marriage law. She also said on last week's WPFW debate that she supports giving land to the Redskins for a practice facility, on the theory that the master plan calls for recreational space.
The plan does ask for recreation space, but intended to serve local residents, not to be a fenced-off facility that only serves a professional team. I pushed on this issue, asking her why she would fulfill a neighborhood request in this way. She didn't have a good answer and seemed confused by the policy details.
The other candidates all reaffirmed their opposition to the practice facility. Orange said he would support bringing the actual team back and potentially using public funds, if it were part of a plan to create a "livable, walkable" community around the stadium as the District is doing at the ballpark.
"Livable, walkable" actually is a phrase Orange spoke at least 5 times over the course of the debate. It's a testament to the phrase Tommy Wells coined for his campaign slogan, and the policies behind it, that Orange has latched on. Hopefully this means he genuinely supports the principles of "livable, walkable" communities; either way, he clearly believes it's a growing political force.
Kwame's revenge: Speaking of Mr. "Livable, Walkable" Wells, the forum's most dramatic moment came near the end, when Orange suggested that Wells should have at least toned down his criticism of Kwame Brown's Lincoln Navigator scandal, to avoid losing his committee and his opportunity to advance his agenda. Shapiro quickly disagreed, arguing that Wells was right to speak up and that it shows the "dysfunction" in the current council that others did not come to his defense.
Did the forum help you make up your mind? What stuck out as most meaningful to you?
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- Young kids try to assault me while biking
- Redeveloping McMillan is the only way to save it
- Endless zoning update delay hurts homeowners
- Vienna Metro town center won't have a town center
- DDOT agrees to repave 15th Street cycle track
- Residents organize for positive change in Bluemont