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Posted at 11:51 AM ET, 07/13/2011

A tactical shift from O’Malley on gay marriage?


The Post is reporting that Gov. Martin O’Malley is considering whether to sponsor legislation in the 2012 legislative session that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland. O’Malley was largely silent on the issue when it was considered, and defeated, during the 2011 session.

The defeat of same-sex marriage in Maryland was viewed as a major setback for a cause that has recently earned the support of a majority of Americans but remains deeply unpopular among many influential groups — including African-American religious leaders, the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops and conservative Christian organizations.

The movement was revitalized, however, when the New York legislature approved a measure legalizing same-sex marriage in the Empire State. New York became only the sixth, but the largest, state to legalize same-sex marriage. That same-sex marriage was legalized in New York and not Maryland is particularly interesting given that the New York Senate is controlled by Republicans. Maryland’s Senate is home to 35 Democrats and only 12 Republicans — Republicans lack even sufficient numbers to filibuster legislation — and same-sex marriage narrowly passed in the Maryland Senate in 2011. Maryland’s House of Delegates is home to 98 Democrats and 43 Republicans; same-sex marriage died there after an intense effort by Catholic and African-American religious leaders convinced several sponsors of the legislation to withdraw their support.

Nearly every analyst agrees that the crucial player in New York was Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Cuomo, a first-term Democrat, has not shied away from some of the most difficult issues facing his state. Cuomo fought vigorously both publicly and behind the scenes to ensure passage of the bill. Upon taking office, he made legalization of same-sex unions a priority.

Like Maryland (and most other states), New York is facing tremendous budget troubles. In New York, like Maryland (and most other states), a significant portion of the budget woes stem from obligations to public employee health and pension plans. Cuomo negotiated a deal with state labor leaders that should save nearly $1.6 billion over five years via a three-year wage freeze raise and raising the retirement age for most state workers from 62 to 65 and from 57 to 65 for teachers. Additionally, workers’ contributions to their pensions are to increase from 3 to 6 percent of their salaries. And Cuomo won those concessions via amicable negotiations with union leaders.

All of this success has raised Cuomo’s profile. Not only are folks viewing him as a leading contender for the 2016 Democratic nomination, there have been whispers that he may replace Joe Biden as President Obama’s running mate in 2012.

For O’Malley, Cuomo’s success is anything but a cause for celebration. O’Malley has been using his current position as Chair of the Democratic Governor’s Association to raise his own profile. He has picked fights with prominent Republicans like Chris Christie in New Jersey and Scott Walker in Wisconsin, and he frequently wades into the national debate - especially with regard to the nation’s debt.

[Continue reading Todd Eberly’s post at The FreeStater Blog.]

Todd Eberly blogs at The FreeStaterBlog. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By  |  11:51 AM ET, 07/13/2011

 
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