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.
"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."