Maryland Democratic Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, the state’s highest-elected Black official and possibly its most powerful, supports marriage equality bills recently filed in the Maryland General Assembly, reports the Washington Blade.
LGBT activists believe Brown, a Prince George’s County Democrat who is considered a potential candidate for governor in 2014, could play a key role in defending the marriage bill against a voter referendum in 2012 if the legislature passes it this year, as most political observers expect. ...
As a prominent black elected official, LGBT advocates for the marriage bill would likely seek Brown’s help in campaigning for the bill in a referendum fight in his home turf of majority black P.G. County. In California in 2008, exit polls showed that a majority of black voters supported overturning that state’s same-sex marriage law in the bitterly fought ballot measure known as Proposition 8.
"I think Prince George’s County, which is predominantly African American, should not be viewed as a monolithic entity or county or community,” Brown said. “I think we’re going to get varying degrees of support and varying degrees of opposition. We know from public comments that many of the traditional civil rights organizations have come out in support of it,” he said, referring to the same-sex marriage bill.
“We also know that a number of members of the clergy from the African-American churches have come out or spoke against it," he said. "So there’s not a clear or I should say single voice in Prince George’s County on this issue as I suspect is true in most all of the large counties in Maryland."
Brown was asked what he thought of assertions by Bishop Harry Jackson, a Maryland minister who led efforts to oppose D.C.’s same-sex marriage law. Jackson and his supporters, among other things, argued that same-sex unions endanger black families because they undermine traditional marriage.
"Well, my only response, and this is not a response to the impact on black families, white families, or any other families," he said. "My response to that is I have had experience through friendships and acquaintances with couples – same-sex couples – who are successfully raising children. And that’s in a number or variety of racial or ethnic backgrounds. So I have difficulty understanding that comment."
One note: In 2009, Ken Sherrill of CUNY-Hunter College and Patrick Egan of New York University, among other researchers, published precinct-by-precinct voter analysis that debunked the much-cited exit poll that purported blacks overwhelmingly supported Proposition 8 in California. White voters in Orange, Bakersfield, San Bernardino and other counties actually tipped the scale. It's a little disappointing this was repeated in the Blade in 2011.
Lt. Gov. Brown said he believes a referendum on same-sex marriage will make the ballot in 2012, but he believes voters would not overturn it. Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he would sign a same-sex marriage measure approved by the legislature.
Brown’s announcement came on the same day that Republican State Sen. Allan Kittleman announced he would vote for the marriage bill, the Washington Post reports. In recent weeks, Kittleman was forced to step aside as Senate minority leader because Republican senators were angered by his decision to introduce a civil unions bill.