ANALYSIS: The top 10 reasons Maryland lost the "gay marriage" battle — after winning it last year.
POSTED: Feb. 29, 2012
There are some lessons here that the rest of the country can learn from.
Last year when the gay "marriage" bill came before the Maryland General Assembly, it looked like it would pass easily. It had overwhelming support among the legislators. But the Maryland pro-family movement teamed up with the religious community and the Republican party and brilliantly defeated it. They did it with lots of pressure from constituents in the districts — and bold, no-holds-barred arguments. Then they went on to defeat the transgender rights bill a month later. It was a total loss for the homosexual lobby.
This year the task of defeating the re-filed same-sex "marriage" bill was — on paper — a lot easier, given the fear that had previously been instilled in the Legislature over it. But in Feb. 2012 it passed both houses fairly quickly. The homosexual lobby applied their considerable pressure with a huge and well-financed lobbying effort, but our side didn't respond.
Here's our analysis of why our side lost:
The pro-family establishment adopted a strategy based on fear. We were told (by multiple sources) that the leaders of Maryland's pro-family establishment were "warned" by legislators that last year a key Senator changed his vote to support gay "marriage" because of the "hateful rhetoric" from our side that he heard. "You need to police your people," pro-family leaders were told. So they aggressively ordered everyone to be polite, reasonable and not "extreme" sounding in any way.
Unfortunately, that's the oldest trick in the book. The homosexual lobby and their allies use that ploy all over the country to get pro-family leaders to soften their message into mush — and we subsequently lose. It certainly worked this time.
The pro-family establishment took tight control of the entire lobbying process. They had already established contacts with the churches, major pro-family legislators, and activists. They made it clear that they were running the entire effort. They took control of who would lobby, what the role of churches would be, who would testify and in what order, who would talk to politicians, and most importantly what the message would be. One activist said they were told at a meeting by the leadership, "Put your trust in us. We want to win. Yes, we're trying to muzzle you." Another activist was told, "You need to leave lobbying to the professionals."
A weak, compromising message was mandated. Pro-family activists were ordered to be polite, reasonable, and not "extreme" or "anti-gay." No "Bible thumping" either, they were told. The message was to be that the word "marriage" was special and must not be re-defined at any cost. This implied that civil unions and domestic partnerships would be acceptable as long as the word "marriage" was not changed. As a result, many pro-family people — even clergymen — testified that civil unions would be a reasonable compromise. The secondary message was that every child needs a mother and father, but that was undermined by not opposing homosexual civil unions or domestic partnerships.
Aggressive pro-family groups were excluded. Groups like Protect Marriage Maryland which were willing to take the same uncompromising stand that was successful last year were blackballed. The message even got out to the politicians, many of whom shunned and avoided the non-establishment pro-family people. (Very familiar to us at MassResistance!) In addition, the use of ex-gays and others was strongly discouraged.
The opponents' arguments were not countered. The pro-gay "marriage" legislators basically parroted the homosexual lobby's talking points. They went on about "equality" and how this was an extension of the Civil Rights movement. They compared this bill to the repeal of the miscegenation laws in the 1950s. They talked about all the "loving families" and how being "gay" is simply "who they are." This, of course, is all nonsense and easily deconstructed. But our side didn't even try. Unfortunately, unless such arguments are countered by our side, it's assumed that we don't disagree with them.
Churches were neutralized, not utilized. Last year the churches were a major part of the directing outrage at legislators from their home districts and in the hearings — with strong, uncompromising rhetoric. This year they were relatively silent, especially when it counted. Church leaders had been told by the pro-family establishment to stick to the moderate message and, probably as a result, did not confront the legislators with much enthusiasm that we could see. Instead, during the House hearing one pastor referred to civil unions as a reasonable compromise. It was very disappointing.
The night before the hearings started the churches led a thrilling, inspiring pro-family rally outside the State House. The speeches were wonderful. But afterwards,inside the State House, it was a different story. They were muted and largely ineffective.
Legislators on our side worried about looking "reasonable." Last year legislators publicly talked about "the Democrats' effort to destroy marriage" and the homosexual agenda which will be forced on schoolchildren, and particularly the "Little Black Book." They were not afraid to be blunt when necessary. This year, the word was out not to be "extreme" or "anti-gay," and they pretty much followed the establishment's lead and were considerably toned down. That largely gave their pro-gay colleagues a free ride when they gave their emotional pitches.
The state Republican Party largely went AWOL on the issue. They "officially" opposed the bill, but we didn't see a lot of energy (or funds) expended on stopping it, like last year. There were one or two in the House who were very active. In the Senate no one seemed to be leading any kind of charge. For instance, we didn't see a big Republican-sponsored press conference this time around.
Last year the Republican Party mailed out thousands of copies of the "Little Black Book" from MassResistance across the state. It even appeared on the Baltimore TV news!
Relatively little money was spent. Last year money was raised and spent for waves of powerful mailings, robo-calls, bussing in of church people, and the like. But this year it seemed like little or no effort was made to inflame the average citizens about this, as was so successful last year. On the other hand, the homosexual lobby appeared to spend a lot of money on lobbying types of activities.
Many establishment people accepted the inevitability of defeat and looked ahead to a referendum. This was very destructive to the effort. One well-known activist black minister began leading a chant of "Let the people vote" at the State House before the Senate debate. (This was eerily reminicent of the Massachusetts debacle.) There was a terrible sense that they were giving up before the fight ended, and not treating it like a realistic thing to win. By the time the Senate voted, the establishment appeared to have pretty much folded up their tent, even though the vote ended up being very close.
Like last year, MassResistance was working closely with the aggressive pro-family activists in Maryland. We also came and testified at the Maryland State House for them. But the establishment coalition vastly dominated the effort.
As one Protect Marriage Maryland activist told us, "The opposition was playing hardball and we were playing softball."
But what happened in Maryland is unfortunately a the latest instance of what's been going on across the country. This kind of foolish and cowardly strategy has started to dominate the pro-family movement. And it becomes fatal to any difficult and challenging must-win effort.
We first saw this same thing all too painfully in Massachusetts in 2005-2007, when the pro-family establishment put forth a weak marriage amendment, compromised on civil unions and domestic partnerships, tried to restrict the message, and wanted to look "reasonable." And they lost spectacularly. It almost caused the Maine marriage referendum to lose. This can't continue.
It must be turned around.
This pastor came to testify at the Senate hearing with a pretty direct message. Needless to say he wasn't welcomed with open arms by the pro-family establishment. But it's a message that shouldn't be left out.