Braveboy says her position on same-sex marriage has evolved — just like Obama’s

Just like President Obama, Maryland Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George’s) says her position on same-sex marriage has evolved in recent years.

She voted for the anti-discrimination bill that passed in the most recent legislative session, expanding protections for transgender people. And when asked on the campaign trail about whether she, like most Maryland Democrats, supports gay rights, she cites her representation of Prince George’s County resident Carmelita Carroll and her partner in a housing discrimination case.

Braveboy, one of three Democrats vying for the nomination to become the state’s next attorney general, said that helping the couple fight an eviction effort brought her face-to-face with the “travesty” gay couples face.

“I think as an attorney you judge me by the cases I take on a pro bono basis,” she said. “I have been consistent in terms of helping people with their civil rights, and I have defended rights for gay couples.”

But that record is not enough for the political blog Seventh State, which recently published a three-part series questioning the 39-year-old attorney’s voting record and commitment to gay rights.

When a bill to legalize same-sex marriage was under consideration in 2011, Braveboy proposed an amendment that would block the law unless voters rejected a ballot question asking whether the constitution should ban same-sex marriage.

Critics saw it as a delay tactic, but Braveboy said it was a way to give voters a say on a controversial issue. The amendment failed in a close vote, and the same-sex bill eventually triumphed both in the legislature and on the ballot.

“Would Del. Braveboy – who consistently opposed LGBT rights and argued that it should be up to the voters – now be presenting herself as a supporter of LGBT rights or saying that we need to respect the will of the voters if the vote on Question 6 had gone the other way?” Seventh State blogger David Lublin wrote on Monday.

Braveboy also voted against two measures in 2008 that were supported by gay rights groups, including one giving domestic partners certain hospital visitation and medical decision-making rights in emergency situations. The measure passed.

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, said Braveboy has “a consistently long record of not supporting of any of our issues.”

Braveboy, however, said she proposed the amendment to the same-sex marriage bill simply as a way to gauge public opinion. “I never said I was against same-sex marriage,” she said.

Braveboy’s District 25 is home to some of the largest African American churches in Prince George’s County, where a group of pastors took a stand against the issue on religious grounds.

Braveboy said her views have changed in the past two years, as more and more states have legalized gay marriage or seen bans on gay marriage overturned in the courts. Thinking back on 2011, Braveboy said she is not sure she would have brought the amendment if she had to make the decision today.

“I look at nearly every bill and I make judgments based on the policy and the way the bill was drafted and written,” Braveboy said Tuesday. “While I may have supported the concept, I didn’t support the bill.”

Arelis Hernández covers Prince George’s County as part of The Washington Post's local staff.
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