Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Montgomery and the Marriage Bill

Geography of Support
Montgomery legislators comprise just 32, or 17 percent, of the 188 legislators in the General Assembly. Yet a majority of the sponsors of same-sex marriage bill in both the House of Delegates (21 of 40) and the Senate (5 of 9) are members of the Montgomery County legislative delegation.

The bulk of the remaining sponsors come from Prince George's and Baltimore City. The late and great Sen. Gwendolyn Britt had planned to sponsor the bill in the Senate. It's wonderful to see that all three delegates from her district have cosponsored the bill. They've been joined by six delegates and one senator from their County.

Five delegates and three senators from Baltimore City have signed on as sponsors. District 41 is especially supportive as two delegates and the senator from this district in the northwest corner of the City are listed as sponsors. Rounding out the list of sponsors are four delegates from Howard County.

In contrast, Baltimore County Democrats are conspicuous in their lack of support. Baltimore County sends six Democratic senators and fourteen Democratic delegates to the General Assembly. However, only one Baltimore County delegate, District 8's Todd Schuler, is listed as a sponsor.

One is tempted to blame the lack of support from Democrats from Baltimore County and the rest of the Baltimore suburbs on their representation of marginal districts. Except that even the Democrats from safe districts haven't signed on yet. Indeed, one of the leading African-American opponents of the bill hails from Baltimore County.

Missing in Montgomery
While Montgomery legislators are generally quite supportive of the bill, not all members of the delegation have signed on. And the people who are being more or less supportive aren't necessarily the usual suspects in terms of support for liberal legislation.

Sen. Rona Kramer's (D-14) aggressive defense of Montgomery's economic interests and opposition to more steeply progressive income taxation doesn't always play well with Democratic activists. However, Sen. Kramer was an early supporter of the marriage bill and she represents one of the three more marginal districts in the County.

On the other hand, Sen. Brian Frosh (D-16) has yet to sign as a sponsor even though he represents safely Democratic Bethesda and all three delegates are sponsors of the House bill. Frosh heads the important Judicial Proceedings Committee in the Senate which will examine the bill.

Sen. Rob Garagiola (D-15) and Sen. Nancy King (D-39) also haven't signed on to the Senate bill even though all of the delegates from her districts are sponsors. An odd decision in both cases. Garagiola is rumored to have ambition for higher office and will need support from activists from outside his district--this isn't a good start toward winning them over. King may face a fight to hold her seat in 2010 from Del. Saqib Ali who is a sponsor of the bill.

The only Montgomery delegates who are not sponsors of the bill are Herman Taylor (D-14), Luiz Simmons (D-17), and Ben Kramer (D-19). Rona, perhaps you need to give your brother some sisterly advice?