There has been some chatter among gay marriage advocates that a strategy like Cuomo’s might work in Maryland if supporters of same-sex marriage enlisted key African American leaders such as Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III (D) and U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.)
Baker has declined to talk about the issue, telling a group of Washington Post reporters and editors in March that he preferred to leave the debate up to state officials. Asked again Monday to comment, he declined, through a spokesman.
But Edwards, while carefully noting that the issue is up to state officials, not feds like her, nonetheless offered this advice:
“In New York, you can point to the leadership and advocacy of Gov. Cuomo that made the difference there. . . It was very clear in Maryland in our faith community there were significant concerns that I don’t think were adequately addressed in the legislation. The key in New York was a very specific amendment that was accepted and then supported by the faith community,” that reassured them that they would not be forced to perform marriages that went against their religious beliefs, she said.
“These are the underlying concerns expressed in my church and all throughout Prince George’s County,” she said. It was largely because of reluctance by county lawmakers that the bill ultimately was pulled from consideration in Annapolis because the votes were not there for passage.
“If that kind of leadership had been exercised in Maryland, it would have made a difference,” Edwards said.
While she did not say specifically that she supports gay marriage, she said she views the issue as “a civil rights issue. . .The difference between what happened in New York and what happened in Maryland is that there were [elements of the bill} that actually address the perhaps legitimate concerns raised by the faith community.” Had they been addressed, “it was entirely likely that you would have seen passage here, and that would have been fine by me.”