Partisanship takes precedence over democracy. Personal power is important as well:
Maryland House Democrats yesterday killed a proposed ban on homosexual "marriage," likely preventing any such proposal from getting on the November ballot.
"It doesn't look good for additional action," said Delegate Anthony J. O'Donnell, Southern Maryland Republican and minority whip. "The Democrats want to keep this from the citizenry in an election year."
Democrats are reluctant to put the amendment on the ballot because it would energize conservatives in an election year in which Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., a Republican, is seeking re-election and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, also a Republican, is running for U.S. Senate.
Most Marylanders -- 54 percent -- would approve a constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman, according to a recent poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports.
It is undemocratic for committees to kill bills that are popular enough for a discharge petition. What Vallario is really worried about is his own personal power to thwart the will of his colleagues and his state.
Delegate Joseph F. Vallario Jr., Prince George's County Democrat and House Judiciary Committee chairman, argued that saving the bill would undermine the legislature's committee system.
He warned that reviving the constitutional amendment would lead to the resurrection of every bill killed in committee.
The Washington Post adds:
Of course, there is no concern about the needs of the state of Maryland, Maryland law, the Maryland Constitution, or the people of Maryland - for the undemocratic Democrats, the balancing act is between political power as an individual and political power as a group.
Afterward, a number of the 19 Democrats [who voted to save the bill] said they appreciated the chance to vote, even if it was on a procedural question, because it let them publicly identify their position on an issue that carries deeply personal and broadly political implications.
"We needed to show where we were," said Del. Eric M. Bromwell (D-Baltimore County), who said many of his constituents feel passionately that marriage should involve only a man and woman. "Today, this allowed us to do that."
House Majority Leader Kumar P. Barve (D-Montgomery) said that was a helpful byproduct of the morning vote. Although many members supported the marriage bill, they also recognized the delicate balance between their political needs and those of the state Democratic Party.
Democrats also refused to debate the merits of the issue:
Although Democrats said the debate enabled advocates on both sides to voice their views, the speaker took pains to limit the floor discussion to whether the procedure should be used to resuscitate the measure.Republicans should campaign on letting the people vote.
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