Influence of African American Churches Felt in Maryland Marriage Vote

The Washington Post reported last week that the Catholic hierarchy’s lobbying campaign against Maryland’s pro-gay marriage legislation has been ineffectual. This despite the fact that the state’s political leadership – the governor and the leaders of the House of Delegates and State Senate – are each Catholic.

Yesterday, two sponsors of the legislation in the House of Delegates absented themselves from a key vote on the bill rather then move it forward. They were reacting, at least in part, to pressure from African-American churches, many of which have spoken out vociferously in favor of traditional marriage and oppose its expansion to include gays.

(Latest report this morning is that one of the delegates is ready to get back on board with the bill.)

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The actions of the delegates highlight a greater national trend: the opposition of African American churches and their influential pastors’ points to a potentially serious break in their traditional alliance with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. If opposition to gay marriage translates into lack of enthusiasm (or, worse, antagonism) toward Democrats from such a core constituency at the 2012 ballot box, this is very bad news for Democrats.

Recall that opposition to gay marriage played a key role in tipping Ohio to George W. Bush in 2004, perhaps costing John Kerry the presidency.

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