Maryland Delegate Sam Arora Will Vote For Marriage Bill, But Will Support Referendum

MD Del. Sam Arora (D)

Maryland Delegate Sam Arora (D), who has come under intense criticism from bloggers and donors for wavering in his support for expanding marriage to gays and lesbians in the state, has finally released a statement saying that he opposes marriage equality, but will vote the bill out of the House Judiciary Committee and support it on the House floor.

Arora also threw his support behind the referendum sponsored by out of state anti-gay forces that would put the question of marriage on the 2012 ballot:

I have heard from constituents, friends, and advocates from across the spectrum of views and have thought about the issue of same-sex marriage extensively. I understand their concern—this is a very serious issue, and one that many people feel passionately about. As the vote drew nearer, I wrestled with this issue in a way I never had before, which led me to realize that I had some concerns about the bill. While I personally believe that Maryland should extend civil rights to same-sex couples through civil unions, I have come to the conclusion that this issue has such impact on the people of Maryland that they should have a direct say. I will vote to send the bill to the floor because it deserves an up-or-down vote. On the floor, I will vote to send the bill to the governor so that Marylanders can ultimately decide this issue at the polls. I think that is appropriate.

While running for office, however, Arora secured the support of gay and lesbian donors — including the endorsements of Equality Maryland and Progressive Maryland — by promising to support equal marriage rights. In an email to supporters dated February 3, 2011 Arora boasted of his support for the equality bill and has previously tweeted about his sponsorship of the legislation. The tweet has since been deleted.

Numerous donors have asked Arora to refund their contributions to his campaign and Chevy Chase Mayor David Lublin has said that “if Arora does vote against the marriage legislation on the House floor, his next move should be to resign.” “If he honestly feels like he cannot vote for this on the floor, the only honorable course of action will be for him to resign because he campaigned so strongly on the issue to so many different people,” Lubin told Metro Weekly.

Meanwhile, out-of-state opponents are mobilizing for a referendum fight. National organizations like the Family Research Council and the National Organization for Marriage have promised to organize churches that “will be the source of most of the 53,650 signatures needed to get same-sex marriage on the 2012 ballot.” Opponents of marriage “can start collecting signatures immediately after the passage of the bill in the House of Delegates, before Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signs the bill.”