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03/14/2011

The arc of history is long -- and frequently ambivalent

by Jeremy Hooper

Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks accurately notes Gov. Martin O'Malley's failure to make a strong push on marriage equality:

On the matter of same-sex marriage, you publicly state a preference for the lesser option of civil unions but pledge to sign the same-sex marriage bill if it reaches your desk. However, you do nothing more than a little last-minute, behind-the-scenes lobbying to get the few votes needed for its passage. When the effort crumbles in the House of Delegates, you sing that "One Maryland" song that invokes groans: "As One Maryland we must work together to respect the dignity of every individual. I remain committed to working with all Marylanders to ensure that rights are protected equally for everyone." What? Where were you when supporters of same-sex marriage needed helping muscling up one or two votes in the House?

But Rodricks also says he totally gets it, since the relatively young governor most likely has his eyes on a higher prize:

He need not take the lead on same-sex marriage; it might be the fair and moral thing to do, but he probably believes that being overtly pro-gay works against any notions of national office.
O'Malley: More ambition than leadership [Balt Sun]

And the columnist is likely right. Because unfortunately, folks, that's still the world in which we live, love, and listen to overwrought debate. In politics, principles are always disposable up until the moment the movement behind the particular push reaches a critical mass point where non-support becomes the liability. We're headed in that direction, of course. But for now, LGBT rights are still an all-too-easy chop, with poll watchers all-too-often seeing an old fashioned hedge and/or triangulation as the much safer bets.

We'll get #MARRYland equality. Gov. O'Malley may or may not get a higher office. But nobody can either fake or take away the comfort of standing for what's right even before 50%+1 of the public realizes it.

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