The Stakes Get Even Higher for Maryland's Same-Sex Couples

As long as Delegate Dwyer and his bigoted buddies are in the Maryland Legislature, marriage equality will continue to be threatened by constitutional amendment's attempting to ban same-sex marriage. Well, any chance to do so this year will bring with it a considerable rise in the stakes of such legislation.

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that the 2004 Michigan ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage also bars public employers from providing same-sex partner benefits of any kind. It is even more imperative that any same-sex marriage ban in Maryland be stopped and same-sex partner benefits from public employers must be codified and protected.

No matter your position on gay marriage, same-sex partner benefits are a necessity. The goal of these bans are to "protect traditional marriage" and though I won't debate on the merits of that position, I will posit that same-sex partner benefits, applied outside of a marriage, in no way threaten "traditional marriage". In fact, they completely leave it out of the equation.

I have argued before, along with Equality Maryland, that only full marriage rights for homosexuals should be acceptable to Maryland Democrats. But we must do something to ease the unfair burden on same-sex couples, and codifying partner benefits from public employers is a great start.

What would be unacceptable is a same-sex marriage ban that also eliminates the possibility for public institutions such as colleges to offer their employees same-sex benefits.

Want to get involved to to try and stop the same-sex marriage ban? Want to fight for same-sex partner benefits for Maryland's public employees? Equality Maryland is holding a lobbying day on the 12th, in Annapolis. Join them.

If you can't make it, be sure to write your representatives and tell them that you support equality for all Marylanders. Tell them to vote no on the same-sex marriage ban and to codify same-sex marriage benefits for state employees.

Update: Bruce Godfrey, owner of the now sprawling Crabmedia notes in his blog the importance of the coming decision from the Maryland Court of Appeals on the Deane & Polyak v. Conaway case. Lets hope the the Court of Appeals joins with Circuit Court of Baltimore City in finding that the Free State's prohibition on same-sex marriage does not withstand a constitutional challenge.


Bush Makes Horrible Racist Comment About Obama

Oh dear, the President seems to be taking after super-racist # 1 Joe Biden.
CAVUTO: How do you think the troops would feel about a President Obama?

BUSH: Oh, I don’t know. He, let’s — he hasn’t gotten elected yet. He hasn’t even gotten the party’s nomination either. He’s an attractive guy. He’s articulate. I’ve been impressed with him when I’ve seen him in person. But he’s got a long way to go to be president.
Emphasis mine.

Just like Joe Biden, the President's political career is now effectively over. I expect Republican outrage over this to be even more intense than it was over Biden's comment, after all, Bush is the figurehead of the GOP.

I must say though, if I knew that catching the President describing a black man as "articulate" was all that was necessary to finally convince everyone that he is a horrible racist, I would have been searching harder.

President Bush is a huge bigot. Debate over.

UPDATE: Let me clarify my point here. Democrats have let the Biden story spin out of control. Once again, Republicans have won the media battle. While blatant racists such as Tom Tancredo advocate abolishing the Black, Hispanic, and Asian-American Caucus', we instead hear stories in the media about Biden's flub.

The Democratic Response to a story about a Democrat with race problems:

"Oh my, that sure is terrible. I better be outraged as much as possible so the Republicans don't accuse me of being racist too. Its not enough to just condemn Biden's words, I have to go overboard and really lay into him."

The Republican Response to a story about a Republican with race problems:

"What? He's not racist, its just the Liberal media on a witch hunt again. Have you dems forgotten about Joe Biden?"

Now, I am not advocating the Republican response, but we need to be measured so we don't destroy our brand. For every Democrat that says something with racial overtones, there are about 10 Republicans advocating the abolition of the Black Caucus or the elimination of Black History month. For every Democratic Presidential candidate who makes bad comment about Obama, there is one REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT saying the exact same thing. Just keep that in mind and lets try to move forward keeping in mind the media climate we exist in.

Update 2:More evidence of my point. Biden makes a stupid comment, FOX News responds on their new late night infotainment show:
HOST 1: Sen. Joe Biden, who is now, I think, my favorite person in the world, he’s declared his run for the presidency, but at the same time had some amazing words, which I have here on this card, for Barack Obama, describing him as the first mainstream African-American who is articulate, bright, and clean.

HOST 2: Oh. Well, I think Oprah’s clean.

HOST 1: Yeah, but no, running for president. Oprah’s not running for president. But Jesse Jackson is clean.

HOST 3: She does douche. (Laughter) I was told I was allowed to say the D-word!

HOST: Alright.

HOST 3: You will continue to roll, my friend.

HOST 1: Ok, the thing about what Joe Biden says is, isn’t he saying what every liberal is thinking? That Obama is acceptable because he’s basically like Lionel Jefferson, and he’s not threatening — that’s the son.

HOST 4: Is he the one who sang “All Night Long”?

HOST 1: No, no, that was Lionel Richie, also a non-threatening black man. Liberals have this secret racism about blacks. They’ve got to be light-skinned in order to be acceptable.

After reading that, the term "douche" definitely comes to mind.


2008 Targets

Its never to late to think about '08. There are two congressional seats that Maryland Democrats should focus on, MD-06, where Republican Roscoe Bartlett is considering retirement, and MD-04, where Democrat Al Wynn faced a tough primary challenge from Donna Edwards in 2006.

MD-06: Bartlett has apparently ruled out retirement before 2008. However, as Fredneck argues, a lot can happen in two years.

Bartlett won his race in 2006 against Andrew Duck with 59% of the vote. Duck ran a good race and was one of the best candidates Democrats have fielded in this district in a while. In the end, Bartletts name recognition mixed with the (R) next to his name was too much for Duck to overcome.

If Bartlett retires however, things could even out considerably, especially in a Presidential election year. Maryland Democrats, particularly those in Frederick and Westminster need to start looking for quality, local candidates to run should Bartlett decide to step down. Heck, maybe Duck would even consider running again?

MD-04: The best part about this seat is that it will most likely remain Democratic no matter who gets the nomination. Wouldn't it be great to have a reliable Democrat in this seat, rather than the bush loving Al Wynn? Of course it would, so it is important we start early.

There was a huge amount of national netroots support for Donna Edwards during her primary challenge. Since Donna is now busy holding folks like Wynn accountable, we need to find a new Democrat to run in the primary.

It would be wonderful to take this seat from Wynn, and the netroots money and infrastructure will be there to support whoever we run.

So, put your thinking caps on and get ready for '08.

Conservatives "Regroup" in Baltimore

Republicans have finally decided to come together to discuss how to regroup after their losses in 2006. Its a very important event for the party:
The retreat comes amid a widening split between conservatives and moderates within the Republican Party, with each side blaming the other for election losses in November. Conservatives say the party lost touch with the voters when it lost touch with its basic tenets: keeping government small and spending limited.

"As conservatives, we must get back to basics and begin to thoughtfully communicate our vision and core principles," Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Texas Republican who chairs the 90-member Republican Study Committee, said in a statement. "Gathering some of the best minds in the conservative movement together with conservative leaders in Congress provides an opportunity to strategize and develop a solid foundation."

Obviously, conservatives have gotten off track. They recognize that they must return to their original values, especially if they plan on taking the presidency in 2008.

Too bad only one of the GOP front runners showed up.
Romney will address the congressmen Friday. Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani also were invited to the retreat in Baltimore, where the same group met last year. Giuliani told organizers he had a scheduling conflict, they said. McCain did not respond.
Hilarious. Giuliani and McCain are the standard bearers of the GOP for '08. Romney is a long shot at best. This non-attendance is key.
The retreat comes amid a widening split between conservatives and moderates within the Republican Party, with each side blaming the other for election losses in November. Conservatives say the party lost touch with the voters when it lost touch with its basic tenets: keeping government small and spending limited.
Seems like the conservative wing of the GOP has lost touch with their presidential candidates.


Congress CAN Bring the Troops Home

As Glenn Greenwald so eloquently points out. Republicans forced President Clinton to pull troops out of Somalia. Those same Republicans today are arguing that what they did in 1993 is now not allowed because it is being pursued by Democrats in 2007. Of course, as Greenwald also points out, they are lying through their teeth.

The Real McCain

Has anyone else noticed that most of the GOP attacks on Democratic '08 candidates seem to be based on lies and more lies? It gets worse when even after the stories are roundly debunked and shown for the lies that they are, right wing outlets and blogs continue to run them unquestioningly.

It is with that thought in mind that I am pleased to post video "attack" on McCain, one that skewers him with his own words and nothing more.

hat tip to DFA


Ending the Violence

Baltimore Examiner:
Protesters call for an end to violence

BALTIMORE - Marching through the McCulloh Homes housing project in East Baltimore on Saturday, nearly 100 protesters took to the streets to call attention to another deadly month in one of the country’s deadliest cities.

Citing 24 murders in 24 days, Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, president of the Baltimore chapter of the NAACP, who organized the Let’s Stop the Killings and End The Violence Rally, said he was fed up with the violence.

“We are here to end the apathy,” he said “We are here to recognize the continuing violence, and we’ll keep to expressing our outrage until things change,” he said.

How many of these rallies have taken place over the years? I am sure the numbers reach into the hundreds. What have they accomplished? Not too much it seems.

Yes, these rallies serve a purpose. They bring the community together and they restore a much needed feeling of unity among those in the city who want to see an end to the violence. Community leaders say some nice things and some angry things:

The protesters, who marched to the plaza near McCulloh Homes where a murder had occurred just days before, were joined by Israel Cason, the founder of I Can’t, We Can drug rehabilitation center in Park Heights, and state Del. Jill Carter.

Cason, who was recently notified the council he intends to seek the 6th District council seat vacated by new City Council President Stephanie Rawlings Blake, said the city needed a spiritual change.

“This is about our souls,” he said. “The root of the problem is us, we need to do something about our own condition” he said.

Carter, the only mayoral candidate to attend the rally, said the absence of other public officials was telling.

“The lives of African-Americans are simply not valued,” she said. “We need to build the morale of the people by standing with them.”

Delegate Carter, though it may seem like the "smart" thing to do, this is not the time to be scoring political points. Even though Baltimore's crime problems are the things of Mayoral candidate's dreams, even if every mayoral candidate from the past 25 years would have attended the protest this past Saturday it would have done nothing to end the violence in the city.

Others at the rally had opinions on how to end the violence:

Michael Makel, a resident of McCulloh Homes, said that although he is encouraged people turned out to join in the protest, the key to stopping violence was in the classroom.

“Everything starts with proper education,” he said. “Teenagers need to know there is opportunity out there, a real alternative. Then you’ll see change.”

Indeed, improving opportunities for those in violent areas is an important step in ending the violence. However, while we increase the opportunities for our "at risk" youth, we also need to take an active role in decreasing the opportunities for these youth to engage in behavior that leads to violence. This means ending our youth's access to a job in the illegal drug trade and all the criminal activities that come with such involvement. Our current policing and drug enforcement strategy has only lead to an increase in the scope, competitiveness and profitability of the illegal drug trade.

If we are serious about ending violence and saving our young people from becoming involved in violence we must attack the source of the criminal activity that breeds this violence. This is not the simple availability of illegal drugs, it is specifically the illegal market and the way we deal with this market that must change. To do this we must create a legal market for drugs that is appealing to the drug consumer. Once the consumer sees that they can get their fix in a safe, cheap, and legal way, the open air drug markets will fade almost immediately.

Suddenly, "the game" isn't very attractive anymore. The money will be gone, and with it, the allure of street life. Selling on the corner will no longer be a perceived "short path to money, success, and respect" that is has become for many misguided youth in our country.

Of course the violence will not end completely. People will still search for the "short path" the comes with robbery, theft, and murder for hire. However, the numbers will be greatly reduced. Not to mention, the street dealing values will pass away as well, with time. It is in these values, bred in desperation and without respect for the law, where we find this fetishization of senseless violence. Here we find the distortions of "respect" and "justice". Here we find the violent societal expression of our vicious, winner take all capitalism.

While Mr. Makel is correct, that teenagers do need a "real alternative", he never mentions what they need an alternative to. It is unspoken, but he is talking about cycle of violence and criminal activity of which the illegal drug trade is the backbone. No matter what alternative we present to our youth, it will continue be ignored by those who are drawn to the lucrative and forever pervasive illegal drug trade.

UPDATE: DChase at Bmorenews criticizes the violent mentality that has been created by the illegal drug trade.