Post Partisan (The Washington Post)
July 19, 2012
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-Md.) really wants a deal to open a sixth casino in his state. So much so that he plans to unveil a draft bill for legislators to eyeball on Friday. His goal is to get it approved in a special session. And if that happens, then Maryland voters get the final say at the ballot box in November. It’s this prospect that has proponents of the state’s marriage-equality law very nervous. O’Malley is a fervent proponent of marriage equality. He signed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act in March, making Maryland the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage. (The District has also done so.) But it doesn’t take effect until January. This gave opponents time to collect the necessary signatures to bring the law up for a popular vote this November. And it bears repeating that putting the rights of a minority up to a popular vote is wrong. Stripping rights from a minority is unjust. So, what does this have to do with gambling? A lot, fear advocates. O’Malley is pushing to get approval of a sixth casino in Maryland to be built in Prince George’s County and operated by MGM. Just as a point of information, Prince George’s County is majority African American and they make up a majority of voters there. But O’Malley has to get the state legislature to approve it in a special session called no later than mid-August. The state senate is on board. The governor’s obstacle has been the House of Delegates. And that’s only the beginning of the fight.