Maryland's Marriage Success

Question 6 strategies may not work everywhere, but the win gives a green light to its political supporters regardless

By John Riley
Published on November 15, 2012, 9:31am | Comments

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By comparison, he says, the Maryland Marriage Alliance and its chief backer, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), relied on a ''campaign-in-a-box'' that utilized nearly identical ads and talking points that had been successful in banning same-sex marriages in other states – not only in Maryland, but in Minnesota, Washington and Maine – which also faced marriage-related ballot measures.

''I think the individual message matters, and the messenger matters just as much,'' Nix says.

Also giving marriage equality a boost was President Obama's endorsement, inclusion of it in the Democratic Party's official platform, and the advocacy of Maryland politicians such as Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), says Nix.

Todd Eberly, assistant professor of political science and public policy at St. Mary's College of Maryland, said before the vote that the success or failure of the marriage-equality law would likely dictate the political futures of some Maryland Democrats, particularly those who were involved in the legislative wrangling. For instance, Eberly said, O'Malley, who helped spur the 2012 legislative effort after a marriage-equality bill failed to pass the House of Delegates in 2011, was tied to the marriage-equality bill, as were any prospects for higher office. Had the bill failed, O'Malley likely would have lost some appeal when compared with other potential 2016 presidential contenders. In the race to replace O'Malley as governor in 2014, Eberly reasoned that most Democratic candidates would tie themselves to the marriage-equality law – if it passed. Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery Co.) is among those expected to run for governor, which would make her the first out lesbian candidate for governor. As for the LGBT vote specifically, Eberly warned that Mizeur may not gather the bulk of support from that community even if she chooses to run.

''The LGBT vote is not monolithic,'' he said. ''There's a tremendous amount of diversity there, so we can't assume she'll automatically get that segment of the vote.''

But, Eberly concluded, Maryland's marriage-equality vote gives a green light for those politicians who supported it to consider moving ahead: ''Whatever happens with marriage equality will indicate whether someone like Mizeur can move forward or not with a run for higher office.''