Metro Weekly

Equality Maryland Board Chairs Explain Marriage Vote Decision

In a statement released to Metro Weekly on Monday, March 21, Equality Maryland board chair Chuck Butler and Equality Maryland Foundation board chair Patrick Wojahn detail what led to the organization’s decision to request a delay in a vote on the 2011 marriage bill.

The two wrote, in part:

It’s understandable that because the marriage bill moved so swiftly through the Senate, many thought the bill would sail through the House. For several reasons, including the results of last year’s election, this didn’t happen. The night before the March 11 vote, House leaders informed us that the bill did not have the 71 votes necessary for passage. They made clear two key issues: first, as time went on, the bill was losing support; second, if the House voted on the bill, certain Delegates who might take a risky “yes” vote to pass a meaningful piece of legislation would vote “no” because they knew the bill would fail. So rather than garnering 68 or 69 votes – still short of the 71 needed – the bill could be defeated with only 50-some votes in support.

We spent the night in discussions among Equality Maryland board and staff, members of the Assembly’s LGBT Caucus, and our national partner organizations, trying to find a way to save the bill. Everyone realized that if the legislature passed the bill, opponents would likely gather sufficient signatures to place a repeal referendum on the next election ballot. The political realities of a referendum meant that, if we didn’t pass the bill in 2011 or 2012, we wouldn’t have another shot until 2015.

Read the full statement: Recommit.pdf