The Wrong Hill

More than likely this is the week that the State Senate will take up the gay marriage bill, probably starting on Wednesday. I think my position on gay marriage is reasonably well established going back several years, and that’s part of the point that I am making here today.

One of the things that is being discussed is that opponents will launch a filibuster to stop the bill. No don’t get me wrong, I may support gay marriage but I do respect the opinions of my Republican friends and colleagues who have moral or religious objections to gay marriage. But with all of that being said, this is the wrong hill to die on: Republicans should not filibuster this bill.

Now you might take that with a grain of salt coming from somebody who supports gay marriage: don’t get my wrong, I think opposing the bill is bad policy and bad politics. But a filibuster is purely bad politics, and there is very good reason for that. Whether or not the filibuster is successful (which I have a feeling that several of those opposing the bill WILL vote for cloture), the bill is going to pass. If the bill does pass, foes of gay marriage will undoubtedly be able to collect the signatures to petition the bill to ballot; this isn’t an esoteric issue like speed cameras, so there will be droves of people who are willing to sign their name to such a petition drive.

So what does it mean? It means that filibuster or not, we wind up in the same place. So as far as the filibuster goes, gay marriage is the wrong hill to die on.

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That being said, there is a place for the filibuster in Annapolis this year; the multitude of tax increases that are worming their way through the General Assembly. The reason that this is a more appropriate place for a filibuster is simple; fiscal bills such as tax increases cannot be petitioned to referendum. The filibuster is the only weapon that the fiscally responsible have to stop the infliction of further harm on Maryland’s middle and working class families. And Democrats who are inclined to oppose further tax increases are not going to put themselves into a position that would see them support two filibusters during the same General Assembly session.

Gay marriage is the wrong issue to use the filibuster on this year; it’s the tax increases where we should be using this particular weapon.

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