Pro-equality Republicans necessary to Maryland’s SSM success

— By Stephen Richer

The Cardozo Law School Journal of Law and Gender (one of my favorite reads) recently published a speech by Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland.  Her talk, broadly, is about the battle for marriage equality in Maryland and the role her group played.

Marriage equality came to Maryland after 52.4% of the state’s voters approved a November 6, 2012 referendum on the subject.  In the months prior to this vote, however, things were far from certain.  Evans states that, “we realized that two key groups we had to really hold and work on.”  One group was Maryland’s large African American population.  The other, Republicans.

And so, dear readers of Purple Elephant, we have yet another tale in which a number of stalwart, pro-equality Republicans played a pivotal role in bringing marriage equality to another state.  We Republicans are certainly not leading the battle for marriage equality, but, in many (most?) instances, we’re a necessary part.

The other core group that we had to work on was Republican[s] . . . One of the areas we did not have in the budget was persuading Republicans. And so what was an interesting unexpected thing was gay Republicans themselves took it upon themselves to run the campaign for winning the Republican vote. And so we had conservative scholars, officials who served in Republican Governor Robert Ehrlich’s administration and straight ally Republicans doing this task.  (page 901)

One these Republicans was “Walter Olson at the Cato Institute” (page 901) (yes, the same Walter Olson who was accused by Tyler Lopez as yet another libertarian hurting the gay rights movement).  Olson helped gather “country club Republicans” and libertarian Republicans to support, and even give money to, the movement.”  Take a look, for instance, at the names listed at this fundraiser for the Maryland equality movement.

Evans was blown away at this right-of-center support:

“I did more work with Republicans in my eight months of the campaign than I’ve done combined in 20 years of doing this work because it really was this unexpected alliance of libertarian Republicans and LGBT advocates who said we believe we can talk to Republicans about this, and they did. It was incredible to go to these events and have all of these Republicans there supporting or at least wanting to hear why they should support marriage equality.”  (page 901)

Olson put the pro-equality vote of “Country Club Republicans” at 51%.  And when you’re talking about passing the referendum by a margin of 2.5%, clearly this Republican support mattered.

So, yet more evidence that Republican support for marriage equality, though certainly not sufficient, might be necessary?


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