Senate President Predicts Backlash if Maryland Passes Marriage Equality

By Lucas Grindley

Originally published on January 11 2012 4:55 PM ET

The leaders of Maryland's legislature seem to expect that lawmakers will pass marriage equality this year, but the Senate President warned today that passing the bill would trigger a backlash from voters who would then overturn them at the ballot box.

Maryland Senate President Mike Miller is opposed to marriage equality, calling himself a "traditionalist" during an interview today on The Marc Steiner Show that was recorded by Think Progress. But Miller has committed, as he did last year, to allow fellow Democrats to vote on the bill.

"I don't try to influence anybody's vote, and people shouldn't on this issue," he said. "It was 25 for, and 22 against. I don't think anybody's views are going to be changed in the Senate, and I think the vote will be the same."

It was the House that failed to pass the bill during the last try. Speaker of the House Michael Busch said "you will have to convince about 10 people" who favor civil unions to instead vote for marriage equality. "I think that's what it comes down to," he said.

But Miller warned that the House and Senate, followed by a promised signature from Gov. Martin O'Malley, won't be the last word.

"If it goes to a referendum, which I'm certain it will if it passes, I think it's defeated," Miller said, reiterating a threat made by opponents last year to petition for a vote at the ballot box. They have to wait for the bill to pass both chambers before the petition process can begin to overturn the law.

Miller predicted "a coming together of Evangelicals, Catholics, African-Americans" that will oppose the measure. "If it goes to polls, the other side is more motivated, and I think they will get their voters out, and I think it goes down to defeat," he said.