Friday, March 11, 2011

In Maryland, a Time to Lead

Maryland's House of Delegates will likely vote today on whether or not to legalize same-sex marriage in the state. By most counts, the legislation lacks the 71 votes need to pass. I have already written extensively about this issue and stand by prior comments and criticisms of the many delegates who appear to be unprepared for the awesome responsibility of legislating.

Today, I simply want to ask every member of the House of Delegates to look forward, beyond this vote, beyond 2012 or 2014.  Look 20 years into the future, a future where same-sex marriage is legal everywhere - a likely scenario given the dramatic changes in public opinion on the issue. Future generations will look to this era in American history with the same confusion and embarrassment that our generation looks to the era of segregation and anti-miscegenation laws. That future generation will wonder how intolerance, hate, and bigotry could have so defined our public policy with regard to gender preference, much the same as we wonder how we ever believed that the color of one's skin should determine one's rights.

Many members of the General Assembly will have children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren among that future generation. I ask those members, what will you say when your child or grandchild ask what role you played in the fight for equality?  Will you be able to say that you stood at the vanguard of the battle, that you cast a vote for equality that rippled across other states and set a new standard for tolerance? Or, will you lower your voice and your head and explain that when the time came to stand and be counted -- to lead -- you simply weren't up to the task?

Twenty years from now, will you be proud of the vote you'll cast today?