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March 2, 2011

Holdout apparently will support gay marriage

Del. Tiffany Alston said she is now prepared to vote on a proposal to allow gay couples to marry, and it seems she will vote in favor of it.

The Prince George's County Democrat was one of two legislation co-sponsors who refused to vote on the bill at a key committee session Tuesday. She told The Sun last night that she had needed "time to think it through."

In a statement delivered in the early morning hours today, Alston, a new delegate, says: "From the beginning of my campaign  I have told the people that elected me that I personally supported the same sex couple’s right to marry. I believe all people should be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation. ...  I have resolved that if and when the chairman calls the vote I will be ready to vote based on what I believe to be right." (Entire statement after the jump.)

What Del. Jill Carter plans to do remains a mystery for now.

The Baltimore Democrat said she was withholding support to call attention to other issues -- education funding, joint custody of children in divorces -- that she says she views as "more important, or at least equally important."

It's unclear whether the House Judiciary Committee will try again today to take a vote on the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. The plan needs 12 committee votes to pass, and exactly 12 delegates (including Carter and Alston) signaled their support by signing on as co-sponsors.

Alston statement:

"The same sex marriage debate is a very contentious and controversial issue that cuts to the core of people’s religious belief and people’s fundamental right to the pursuit of happiness.  From the beginning of my campaign  I have told the people that elected me that I personally supported the same sex couple’s right to marry.  I believe all people should be treated equally regardless of their sexual orientation.  I also told my constituents that I would listen to their concerns and take them into consideration.  As such, I have been weighing the diverse and diametrically opposed feedback from my constituents and the citizens of the Great State of Maryland.   

On Tuesday, March 1, 2011, as others members of the committee came forward to express their concerns and reservations,  I too shared my interest in having a little more time to weigh my final decision.  Marriage is not an institution that should not be entered into lightly nor is the decision to create a public policy shift surrounding marriage.  There are several fundamental rights that shape this debate: a fundamental freedom to express yourself; a fundamental right to pursue happiness; and just as important if not more important a fundamental right to religious freedom.  I believe that one person’s fundamental right(s) end where another person’s right(s) began.  As a law maker it is my duty and privilege to serve the people and try to find balance and equity where inequity exists.  This duty is compounded when your personal religious belief are contrary to what you believe to be fundamentally right for society.

Accordingly, I have resolved that if and when the chairman calls the vote I will be ready to vote based on what I believe to be right.  In time the people of Maryland will also have the opportunity to vote on what they each believe is the correct direction for our State to take.  In the interim I hope and pray that you will all respect my vote although you may not agree with it.  Thank you all for the privilege to serve as your Delegate."

Posted by Julie Bykowicz at 7:10 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: 2011 legislative session
        

Comments

I see the Fleebaggers are alive and well in Md. Politics. lol

Jill Carter is lucky that she will never know what it is like to have the law tell her she can't do something just because of who she is. Obviously she has never felt the sting of discrimination if she is willing to play fast and loose with the civil rights of an entire minority for political effect. She sucks. That's all there is to it. Standing in the way of progress and equality is not the way to get your political agenda through.

Del Carter is acting like a petulent child. Aren't school funding amounts determined by a formula created many years ago that account for population and other factors for every jurisdiction in the state? If so, her argument to get the $15M that was cut from Balto City is without merit since that $15M was cut due to dwindling population in Baltimore City. We don't even need to get into returns for that investment or the per pupil number of dollars spent in Balto City versus the rest of the state, because Heaven forbid we actually take a look at what that money is being used for or how effective it actually is.

Thank you Del. Alston for supporting the rights of ALL Marylanders and doing the right thing in this historic vote.

In reading this bill it is putting government into the religious aspect of getting involved in religion and as the government wants to separate it's self from religion they should than allow the religious statues and saying again in public places and they are putting themselves right smack in the middle by even voting on a bill such as this..

So in this case they should put prayer back in schools and back in all places they took it out of.

Thank you Delegate Alton. I am glad that the prayers you said you would make were answered and God told you to vote for this bill. We, the gay and lesbian couples committed to each other seeking economic and legal security, sincerely thank you.

What a circus. How fitting that Jill Carter is the ringmaster. An embarrassment to end all embarrassments.

Who are we kidding here?

She introduced the bill because she thought it was popular, and then someone in the churches got to her.

If she's so concerned about these "more important" issues, then WHY DID SHE INTRODUCE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE?

I hope that's what people want from their delegates. . .hypocrites that kowtow to religious interest groups. Way to go, Jill Coward.

I think we need to have a litmus test for elected officials, kind of like a jury voir dire: "Can you carry out the duties of your office and represent the people of your district and state without intereference by your personal religious beliefs?" I think Del Alston knows what is right but the pressure put on these legislators by churches in this state has turned out to be massive on this particular issue, sadly. I think Del Alston is right on in concluding that her religious beliefs, while they might impact the choices of herself and her family, are ultimately not relevant in voting on this bill. Where I think her statement was faulty is that there is not a threat here to the religion of others. That is a manufactured notion to get people afraid and against gay marriage. But people are buying it. Just like they're buying that gayness and gay marriage is somehow going to get taught in schools if this bill is passed. So frustrating.

I don't like how she used the out of "in time, the people of this state will be able to vote..." yada yada yada. That's not decisively standing behind your vote but a wink nudge hey you'll be able to overturn me so don't worry much. I wish she'd stand up and say that the rights of a minority should not be voted on by the majority. But she's trying to take cover and is being bombarded and lambasted I am sure. So I do sympathize. Del Alston will end up on the right side of history - so good for her. Let's move this thing forward.

Del Carter is looking more and more like the lone idiot now.

MAYBE OBAMA HAS FINALLY DONE SOMETHING FOR THE GAY COMMUNITY

WILL THE GOVERNMENT CHANGE ITS DEFINITION OF SAME-SEX MARRIAGE FOR IMMIGRATION PURPOSES? MAYBE YES.

Please Help!

We invite potential DOMA project participants to contact us if they are same-sex binational couples who are married (or planning to marry) and who want to join our campaign to end discrimination in immigration law.

Visit us today www.equality4allnow.com

In Massachusetts, to beat back referendum efforts, we meticulously and consistently worked hard to support those legislators who supported us and worked hard to defeat those who opposed us--including finding new candidates to run at them come election time.

We need to be prepared to do the same thing in Maryland. It takes consistent effort over time, but it's do-able.

...and I wish our elected officials would cut the B.S. about this being a very cautious, difficult decision. It's not. It exists in a handful of states and other countrys--Massachusetts has had this for seven years with zero ill effects. Stop pretending like this is super cutting edge and risky.

I spend my whole life defending the equality and dignity of african-americans, and this is the thanks I get: Carter holding up civil rights so she can strong-arm some money. Martin Luther King is spinning in his grave.

The religious black delegates will screw us over, just watch. Remember, the Bible was used to justify slavery too, ladies.

Julie,

Where is Delegate Curt Anderson on his voting? Yesterday, the Sun reported that he was one of three delegates who withheld votes, along with Carter and Alston.

As for Carter, she has about 10 more seconds to come back, or her standing in the gay community is trash, and she will regret the decision when she is not re-elected. Heck, let's run a gay candidate against her.

FROM JULIE: Anderson apparently left the room to look for Carter and Alston.

To the person that wrote to say that government is inserting itself into religion, please understand that marriage is a civil and religious ceremony. If you get married in church without a marriage license, the government won't honor it. They will honor it though if you're married at the courthouse. The marriage ceremony almost always ends with the words, "By the power vested in me by the state of (blank), I now pronounce you..." Gays are not asking for access to the religous part of the ceremony. That is up to the church and their religious freedom whether or not to perform gay marriage ceremonies. We are asking for the civil part. We want to be able to have the state recognize it so that when one of us is in the hospital, the other has the right to visit and make decisions for the other person; so that when one of us passes away, the other one is able to keep the things that we spent our lives building; so that we can cover each other on our health insurance instead of having to rely on the government if one of us loses our job. This bill is very clear in its protections for churches so they don't have to perform a ceremony they don't believe in. We aren't trying to change anyone's mind about religion. We're just trying to remind folks that our government is of the people, by the people and for the people, and some of the people are gay.

This is what Delegate Carter posted word for word, bad English and bad grammar and all on her FB page yesterday: "Today, my committee is convening early to vote on the civil marriage bills. Without sepaking to us, or polling the committee, the media has all decides the outcome. I don't like that. Journalism is dead!" Hmmm... you'd think because you were listed as a co-sponsor Del. Carter that we thought and the media thought you were voting for it. You'd think that someone who was supposed to be a mature representative for the people wouldn't be this inflammatory over a vote she previously said and indicated in print was for. Fascinating how politicians without backbone quickly blame the press.

I agree. This should be a no-brainer. The only controversial part of this is in the minds of religious people, but their struggle should be personal and about their own lives and choices. God is not going to hold them accountable for the decisions of others. If they truly believe He is, then America is not the country for them. That is not how we work. Our basic principles are life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, equality etc. It does not say that we are a union created for the purpose of executing God's mission as defined by the Bible as interpreted by who....the President or our Religion/Bible Czar.

Why is a delegate's religion, or his/her constituent's religion, a valid reason to vote yes or no to this or any other law? That is so disturbing to me and such a dangerously slippery slope. We are not a theocracy. For all those that want to have this come down to religion, let's see if they are really ok with that standard. They can think for a minute to a hypothetical future where Jews or Muslims or Unitarian Universalists were the majority. Would they stand by this principle then? Get out of your hatred/fear of gays and think bigger picture.

I too saw Carter's Facebook status yesterday and thought: wow. She seemed to be trying to claim some sort of victim role so she could come back and fight the man, the media, or whoever else is today's bad guy (i.e., "the gay agenda" or gay advocates) and look like a strong-willed champion who won't be pushed around. But, as someone else said, you were a damn SPONSOR of the bill, vountarily long ago! Grow up and act the part your constituents so graciously gave you.

Funny how facts and reality sometimes just don't matter when concocting a political maneuver. This is more Republican than Democrat in style. It's sad, but can be effective.

These statements are WRONG by Julie though good-intentioned, through the statement put out by the Delegate, yet after speaking with her personally and showing her such, she specifically has said though in favor of Gay Marriage, she is withholding immediate support for such as her constituency needs are bigger than just this issue and that they should be addressed on the "fast track" just as expenentially as this bill has been! "I support People and their rights, however I stand for the rights of all People, not at the expedient desire of the Party however!" Congrats to her and Delegate Carter for standing 4 the rights of the black community who her vehemiently opposed to the measure, yet overwhelmingly in favor of education funding, community resources and other issues being cut by these same Democrats, including the Governor!!

What if they called it the Domestic Partner and Relationship Protection Act and it became an act that allowed for the things prescribed above for medical issues, life decisions, estates, etc to be made when agreed upon by the two individuals gay or not. Heck some folks just don't want to get married. Then if they wanted to have some type of ceremony under the 'religous" title they could seek that out if it could be found. Is it the title or the protections that are of interest is my question. Just a thought.

I'm disappointed in you, Mr. Giordano. Are you Hassan Giordano - I hope not because you embarass yourself if so.

1. The idea that the same-sex marriage bill has been fast-tracked is just another smoke-and-mirrors attempt to divert away from the real issue at hand and feeds into the bill of goods people were sold that they should fear the gay agenda and gay advocates. If gay advocates had so much power, if the legislators were so interested in this bill, it would have been enacted years ago when it was first presented. Gay marriage is not a new idea in Maryland and a Maryland bill to allow for same-sex marriage is not new. It's been stalled FOR YEARS.

2. Another reason your rationale is bogus - are all of these people whining about fast-tracking now ok with the bill if it takes its time? No. They are adamantly opposed and doing anything they can to stop the bill, including stalling it while they figure out new ways to stop it.

3. I would hope we would fast-track a bill that provided for equal civil rights. However, sadly, we have not and we are years into this battle with lots of damage to show for it to real Marylanders.

4. How is Delegate Carter standing up for the rights of the black community? You are buying her ploy hook line and sinker. She predicted your nonsensical response and you bought her game. What rights are the black community losing? The black community would be GAINING the right to have a same-sex marriage and there are many black gays who want and need this right. The right to marriage is the only right at issue. To be a religious right is at issue is, again, buying into someone's manipulation of you, not an intelligent thought.

5. Let's not make this a black vs. white issue. There are people of both races who are taking both positions. Look no further than religious and African-American Del. Carter as an example of someone who favors gay marriage. This little maneuver is just a political game she is playing and it's working based on what your post was.

6. Taking a small amount of time to vote for gay marriage and enact that bill does not interfere with the state and legislature handling other important business. That is plain ridiculous. Again, you are being manipulated. I listened to hearings the other day and 30 minutes of the 2 hours I listened to was some lame introduction of some local kid's baseball team who was visiting the state house. If you want to attack time wasting, the gay marriage bill is your first attack? Give me a break. It's the same as people crying that they want to preserve the sanctity of marriage. Really? Fighting tooth and nail against gay marriage is your chosen battle? What about the million of other things threatening marriage. This is just gay hating/fear, pure and simple.

During the election it was attempted to get blacks fearfull that voting for Ehrlich could result in Obama losing next election.

This is the same.

Now a vote for same-sex marriage now = black priorities and people hurt.

How did we get here?

That same-sex marriage would = kids learning to be gay in school wasn't working for you?

People are so easily manipulated.

Jill Carter is the General Assembly's Charlie Sheen.

What if 100 years ago every man married a man and every woman married a woman? There would be no children. The human race would end. I think every adult has the right to love who they want the want, but I think it is clear that marriage was made for man and woman. We shouldn't mess with that.

This "gay marriage" issue IS NOT A CIVIL RIGHT. There is something called CIVIL UNION. So therefore gays have an option unlike African-Americans.. The only thing these political figures need to do is give EVERYONE the permission to put whomever they want on their insurance & assign whomever they want as their Power of Attorney. I, as well as my family & friends (Baltimore & PG Co), WILL NOT vote again for those who vote for the delegates who apporive this measure. Which is a clear waste of taxpayers money.

This article and many of the comments made thereafter are patently untrue. The truth is, as has been made a little more clear by yesterday's vote, Jill Carter's support never wavered. After purposely making the committee wait 9for about 30 minutes) she was ready to vote that same day. The vote was ot rescheduled because Alston and Arora were leaning towards voting against the bill. They needed more time. Had the vote been taken, even with Carter and vallario voting for the bill, there would have only been 11 votes and the bill would have failed. If anything, it is Alston and Arora that should have been called out for wavering. Carter never gave them up which frankly shows she is an extremely selfless person. Also, consider that in the end Alston voted against the bill. Jill carter's actions throughout this entire debacle, were courageous and heroic. It is sad that she hasn't gotten any support from the people or groups for which she's advocating, including those that favor same sex marriage. what sucks here is the Sun for not bothering to look beyond the surface and get the facts, especially editor Andy Green who never even attempted to write the truth, and overly-reactionary people, including "Scottie" who is clearly only an anti-Jill Carter poster. Most of you owe Jill Carter an apology. She is the only legislator in all of Annapolis willing to take a stand against injustice, not merely for one group because its popular at the moment, but for all. Kudos to Delegate carter. We need more like her!

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About the bloggers
Annie Linskey covers state politics and government for The Baltimore Sun. Previously, as a City Hall reporter, she wrote about the corruption trial of Mayor Sheila Dixon and kept a close eye on city spending. Originally from Connecticut, Annie has also lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where she reported on war crimes tribunals and landmines. She lives in Canton.

John Fritze has covered politics and government at the local, state and federal levels for more than a decade and is now The Baltimore Sun’s Washington correspondent. He previously wrote about Congress for USA TODAY, where he led coverage of the health care overhaul debate and the 2010 election. A native of Albany, N.Y., he currently lives in Montgomery County.

Julie Scharper covers City Hall and Baltimore politics. A native of Baltimore County, she graduated from The Johns Hopkins University in 2001 and spent two years teaching in Honduras before joining The Baltimore Sun. She has followed the Amish community of Nickel Mines, Pa., in the year after a schoolhouse massacre, reported on courts and crime in Anne Arundel County, and chronicled the unique personalities and places of Baltimore City and its surrounding counties.
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