A poll released this morning shows that a slight majority of Americans now say they support the legalization of gay marriage -- that’s a first. But Maryland’s efforts to legalize such marriages fell surprisingly flat last week. What’s next for the effort? Getting supporters back on the same page would be a good start.
Advocates for the marriage legisation were obviously disconsolate with the bill’s failure to pick up enough votes to proceed through the state’s House of Delegates and on to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s desk -- especially after it passed through the traditionally more conservative Senate with relative ease. But that frustration has manifested itself in a somewhat messy splintering of the support. One lobbyist called the decision to cancel the vote on the bill in order to resurrect it during next year’s session a “strategic blunder of monstrous proportions.” And Equality Maryland, the main LGBT advocacy group in Maryland that has caught public flak for its support of the cancellation of the vote has been policing its Facebook page, deleting comments from supporters of the bill upset with the decision to shelve it until at least 2012.
But as House Speaker Michael E. Busch said after the House cancellation, “this is a distance run, not a sprint.” While the lack of a law is an incredibly disappointing result for many, gay marriage advocates would be well served to not allow in-fighting to whittle into their greater momentum. As The Post’s editorial board aptly noted, “the direction of the debate seems clear enough; the pace is frustrating.” The battle for truly equal rights obviously wasn’t going to end with the adoption of a single piece of legislation -- and how supporters of gay marriage react to one of the first victories anti-marriage opponents have had in some time regarding the issue will certainly play a large part in the wider movement.