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Queer Talk: From Chris Christie, Sam Arora, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton

Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.

The latest round of marriage equality stories includes appearances by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Maryland House Delegate Sam Arora (Dem), President Obama via Jay Carney, and Bill Clinton.

Yesterday the Maryland House of Delegates passed the marriage equality bill, with a 71— 67 vote. The Maryland Senate is expected to do the same (they’ve done so in an earlier vote), and Governor Martin O’Malley will sign it. Opponents are working to put it on the November ballot.

From Keen News:

The vote came after hours of emotional debate … with delegates declaring what they said god has ordained as marriage and warning that same-sex marriage would open the door to polygamy and marriages with children and that it would encourage children to become gay.

It’s another important win, but like most of them, challenges continue. According to Keen, a key vote was that of

… Delegate Tiffany Alston, a Democrat … . She said she was … voting for the bill this year because the House adopted her amendment to enable a referendum on the issue … (which) delays implementation of the new law until any litigation surrounding a possible referendum is resolved and states that, if any part of the law is ‘held invalid for any reason in a court of competent jurisdiction,’ the entire law shall be made null and void.

The bill also won the support of a key Republican, Delegate A. Wade Kach of Baltimore, who backed the bill after getting approval of an amendment moving the effective date of the bill back from October 1 to January 1. Kach said he wanted to ensure that the bill did not have any impact on the November elections.

These two amendments sound like two Electeds trying to be seen as “moderate,” or maybe just “good enough,” so that they’ll still get votes from different segments of their constituents.

The Maryland Delegate who unhappily surprised the LGBT communities is Sam Arora. From Aravosis at America Blog Gay:

Sam Arora, after reportedly taking calls from the Governor, Bill Clinton and Terry McAuliffe, still voted against us. All this after he run on a platform including marriage equality.

… As a junior member of a state legislature, it’s just awfully strange that you would flip on an issue like this, right after taking office, with no good explanation why, and then resist appeals from your former employer’s husband (Arora worked for Hillary), who just so happens to be Bill Clinton, and appeals from the current governor, who wants to run for president in 2016.

… from Democratic political consultant Karl Frisch, a former friend and supporter of Arora’s:

‘Discrimination against gay and lesbian couples is one step closer to being over in Maryland. The same can be said for Sam’s career in politics.’

We won’t have “marriage equality” until it includes federal recognition. But same gender couples can marry in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, and in the District of Columbia. California is in process. Washington joined last week, with a challenging referendum filed. Now Maryland, with a delayed implementation and challenges likely. And while New Jersey legislators approved marriage equality last week, Gov. Chris Christie did what he said he’d do. Via Keen:

… Christie issued a ‘conditional veto’ against the marriage equality bill there, saying it would create an ‘Ombudsman for Civil Unions’ to ‘ensure equal treatment under the law.’

To me, Christie appears to be struggling with a real conundrum in GOP politics, especially as someone consistently mentioned as a VP hopeful: how to keep up with growing support for LGBT equality while still being viable in a party with a very loud and active “traditional values” voting segment.

From Keen:

Christie, in his veto statement, said ‘an issue of this magnitude and importance … requires a constitutional amendment [and] should be left to the people of New Jersey to decide.’

… ‘I have been just as adamant that same-sex couples in a civil union deserve the very same rights and benefits enjoyed by married couples … To that end, I include in my conditional veto the creation of a strong Ombudsman for Civil Unions to carry on New Jersey’s strong tradition of tolerance and fairness. … In this way, we can ensure equal treatment under the law.”

Basically, that’s putting civil rights up for a popular vote, and pushing what amounts to a “separate but equal” solution. As Aravosis put it:

It matters when we elect ‘moderate’ Republicans who are too afraid to be moderate in a party that isn’t.

Also from Aravosis, the latest update on the marriage equality evolution of Mr. Obama. Yesterday, on an Air Force One flight to Seattle, a media question to Mr. Carney:

… Washington State legalized same-sex marriage this month. And as you know, Governor Christie is promising to veto a bill legalizing same-sex marriage that passed the New Jersey assembly. I’m just wondering what does the President think about Washington State’s decision and then Governor Christie’s vow to veto legislation?

MR. CARNEY: Well, I would say only broadly, as I have said in the past, without weighing into individual states and their actions, that this President strongly supports the notion that the states should be able to decide this issue, and he opposes actions that take away rights that have been established by those states. But I’m not going to comment specifically on individual states.

Q Is his view on same-sex marriage, though, still evolving? Or how would you describe it?

MR. CARNEY: I have no update for you on that.

Of course. There is this, though, from Box Turtle Bulletin:

US Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the Justice Department will not defend Title 38, which prohibits married gay troops from receiving housing, medial, family separation, disability and death compensation benefits.

Finding and maintaining that “how can get the most votes” balance can be tricky.

( Poster via Wipeout Homophobia on Facebook )

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6 Responses to Queer Talk: From Chris Christie, Sam Arora, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton

  1. fangio February 18, 2012 at 1:55 pm #

    It would seem that what we are witnessing is the Republican party eating itself from within.  There was a picture on the front page of the NYT showing a young Latino male praying with Santorum at his campaign headquarters in Michigan.  So we have a group of religious zealots who think Santorum is some sort of prophet sent to cleanse the country of all the immoral filth that has invaded it;  then we have the anti-tax,  anti-government,  anti-gay,  anti-union,  anti-woman,  anti-sex and anti-spend fanatics.  The dissolution of the party is happening right before our eyes but it’s hard to see  “  the forest for the trees.  “  It would be amusing if all progressives had to do would be to sit back with some popcorn and watch the movie until it’s inevitable  “  The End. “

    • Joyce Arnold February 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      It’s sort of like wondering when the grown-ups will step in and take over. Then after a while, wondering if there are any grown-ups left to step in.

      The scary part, to me, is that this provides perfect cover for “progressives” to play the role of “grown-up,” without really having to do much mature thinking or acting.

  2. Taylor Marsh February 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Love this post!

    …and shared it.

    Good news for Maryland, too.

    • Joyce Arnold February 18, 2012 at 5:04 pm #

      It seems very clear that marriage equality will happen. And by that I mean actual equality, with all the rights and responsibilities as enumerated by the federal government. But it’s also clear we’re going to have to continue fighting for every step in that direction.

  3. secularhumanizinevoluter February 18, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    “It would seem that what we are witnessing is the Republican party eating itself from within.”

    And after the meal I would like to offer Governor Creosote I MEAN Christie an after dinner mint… is WAFFAIR THEEN!

  4. Gaius Sempronius Gracchus February 19, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Christie’s is the moderate position and is the position Obama took during the 2008 primaries, as did all the Democrat contenders but Kucinich.

    It is by no means an ultimately satisfactory position for the Christian right and so not a comfortable one for any Republican, these days, just as you say.

    We can hear them now, the shouting preacher-men, protesting that while gay marriage is both physically impossible and morally preposterous creation of gay civil unions licenses a sin that should be legally prosecuted and rewards with legal privileges those who pledge to continue it together!

    As for those who, like Christie and like Obama, favor civil unions while opposing gay marriage, if I understand the matter correctly the chief practical point – apart from whether gay marriage is physically impossible or morally (or otherwise) preposterous – is to create a legal relationship for same-sex couples other than marriage that is as similar to or different from marriage as the political process cares to make it while leaving marriage itself undisturbed.

    That is, the idea seems to be to thus allow differences in rights as between same sex couples and opposite sex couples that are not an immediate and inescapable consequence of the partners being same sexed rather than opposite sexed.

    Against this, the chief practical point of insisting that not civil unions but gay marriage be allowed is to preclude such differences at the outset.

    Probably, where gay marriage exists, legislatively established differences of rights as between same and opposite sex couples would be vetted rather strictly by the courts.

    Probably, where civil unions prevail such differences would be to a greater degree in the hands of legislatures and ordinary politics.

    In the former case one expects they would be narrower and in the latter possibly broader.

    Too, in the former case uniformity would prevail among the states since the decisions would be made as based on the constitution.

    In the latter case greater diversity could exist so far as the law affecting such things is still a state and not a federal matter.

    All this being so, I personally support the moderate position: civil unions, yes; gay marriage, no.

    That rather forces my hand and so I oppose the view that either the constitutional right to privacy or the right to equal protection create a federal guarantee of gay marriage.


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