Maryland's AG: "Don't Worry, No One's Votes Will Count!"

I spent eight hours at my parish over the weekend helping gather signatures to put marriage on the ballot in Maryland this fall (I am a trained "petition circulator" and trainer thereof). The process is interesting on a number of levels and once I got over my fear and distaste for being the official face of homophobic bigotry in my parish and neighborhood, kind of fun in that you get to meet and talk to a lot of different kinds of people.

A couple of quick observations.

First. I always say (and am not alone in saying) that support for traditional marriage is stronger than polls reflect because of the "spiral of silence" effect. That's sociology talk for people who think their position is unpopular keeping mum and people who think they're winning talking more and more so that neither side has an accurate sense of where people actually are. My parish is pretty much "Maryland" writ small: middle and working class, mixed races, warm family and community ties, deep residual Catholicism, equally deep Democratic Party and union ties. There's a recent influx of young families who are better catechized and more theologically Conservative and a sizable Nigerian immigrant community, but still the bulk of the community is Boomer and Boomer-educated Catholics. I expected more hostility to the petition drive than there was -- and was pleasantly surprised by who and how many folks signed.

The GOP sucks. While witnessing signatures after the Nigerian community Mass in our parish, I had a number of conversations with naturalized citizens who are highly committed to the defense of life and marriage and quite savvy about the likelihood activist judges will inhibit the referendum process. When I made an announcement at each Mass about how the process would work, most people listened politely or looked down so as not to reveal their thoughts. The Nigerians applauded me and asked God to bless their sister -- I guess they're not used to white people being for traditional marriage. Yet they are all registered Democrats (part of the signing process involves looking people up on voter rolls -- that's how I know). No excuse for that except incompetence; there is nothing about these people's culture and attitudes that fits with the Democratic Party.

Speaking of bought judges, I beg you to watch and publicize the final three minutes of our State Attorney General's comments to Equality Maryland last year. Starting at about minute 5, he gives his prediction of how the referendum process will go. Notice that he expects the referendum to get on the ballot and he expects traditional marriage to win "because the machines don't work." (I don't know if I am more offended by his assumption that the only way marriage would triumph is because of the machines not working or by how cavalier he is about the machines not working -- it is not his #1 priority to ensure a clean election?)  He assures his audience that they need not worry about the will of the people, because Gov. O'Malley has appointed judges who will overturn the referendum.

And finally, you might think about sending some $$ in the direction of Maryland Marriage Alliance to fend off this kind of stuff. And if you're a Maryland voter whose church or civic group isn't sponsoring a signature drive for the referendum follow that MMA link to have the petition sent directly to you home. Act by May 19th.