'Delegate Waterworks' gets the Ed Muskie treatment
As Maryland lawmakers debated the gay marriage bill, and Del. Luke Clippinger talked about being gay on the House floor, one of his fellow Baltimore Democrats was moved to tears.
"My colleague Luke, I sit right next to him, enduring all these weeks of negativity, for him to finally speak out and say why he's in favor of it, what it means to him, it just got emotional," Del. Keiffer Mitchell told me.
There's another reason the gay marriage debate hit home for Mitchell. His own marriage would have been illegal until 1967, the year he was born, because Mitchell is black and his wife is white. Interracial marriages were legalized in Maryland that year in an effort led by Mitchell's uncle, Clarence M. Mitchell III.
But never mind Mitchell's heartfelt reasons for crying — a vision seen not just in Annapolis, but nationwide, when The New York Times ran a photo of his tear-streaked face last weekend. Ever since, Annapolis has been treating Mitchell like Ed Muskie.
"I've been referred to as 'Delegate Waterworks,' and the new one is 'Delegate Chief Iron Eyes,'" Mitchell said. The latter is a reference to the actor Chief Iron Eyes Cody, who famously cried in a 1970s anti-littering campaign.
An aide to another delegate enlarged the Times photo and added his own caption: "Delegate Mitchell weeps when he finds out he can't have any more pickles on his hamburger." (Mitchell is a pickle fanatic.)
The response hasn't all been negative.
"I've been getting e-mails and calls from women who say they like it when a guy can show emotion," Mitchell said.
It's nice to know that, even without gay marriage, we're making progress as a society.