Maryland lawmakers passed a same-sex marriage law with a vote of 72-67 last week, and one of the Republicans who switched from supporting traditional marriage to a pro-gay marriage stance in less than 24 hours has left the public and some of his peers confused.
The Maryland House of Delegates debated for over two days the possible gay marriage bill, and pushed forward a number of legislations, such as one that delayed the enactment of the proposal from October to January, but at the end the vote paved the way for Maryland to become the latest state to show redefine the definition of marriage.
Seven states in the U.S. have already approved same-sex marriage – with Washington becoming the latest U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage after the state legislature passed the bill two weeks ago and Gov. Christine Gregoire signed it. New Jersey lawmakers passed a similar bill last week, but it was promptly vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.
Currently, gay marriage is recognized in California, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont. Washington, D.C. also recognizes same-sex marriage. On Feb. 14, Maryland passed its same-sex legislation.
Maryland Delegate Wade Kach was the Republican who voted in favor of same-sex marriage last week, and many were left wondering how he changed his mind overnight as just the day before, on Monday, he was threatening to oppose the bill. Kach had even co-sponsored a measure to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
On Tuesday, however, Kach expressed his support for gay marriage, and explained in front of the House that his pro-life and pro-child views are what compelled him toward making such a decision.
He insisted that the main issue at stake in the same-sex marriage debate is whether children raised in homosexual households would enjoy the same rights and privileges as children raised in heterosexual marriages.
"I'm a pro-life legislator and as a pro-life legislator, I believe that it is my responsibility to make certain that children are taken care of. This child – if this couple were to be able to have a civil marriage would be taken care of. This child would have the rights that a child of a traditional married couple would have. So, I left that hearing a changed person….I thought to myself I'm sent here to represent my constituents. I'm sent here because my constituents have faith in my judgment," the GOP delegate said, Think Progress reported.
"However, my constituents did not send me here to judge people. So I am casting a green vote for this bill and I'm hoping all of you that especially care about children will think of them and hopefully we are going to as a state all of our children are going to have the same rights so that they can prosper in this state," he added.
Kach's decision, however, has evoked heavy criticism from members of the Republican Party, as well as friends of the delegate, who have asked how such a one-day conversion was possible.
"I look at this and say it makes no sense unless there is something else we don't know, said Ellen Sauerbrey according to the OwingsMillsPatch, a friend and political ally of Kach.
"I am totally bewildered by this," Sauerbrey shared. "His decision made no sense."
"I really am very surprised that Wade is going to change his vote," Del. Joseph Boteler, a Baltimore County Republican and colleague of Kach, said before the final vote. "I think he feels that the issue is not a big deal. It's really hard to read him on this issue."
Boteler also explained that it is now rather unlikely that Kach will be re-elected by his constituents in the 2014 vote for the 42nd district.
"I told him I don't think this district will be very happy about his vote for the gay marriage legislation," Boteler revealed.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, also pledged his full support of the bill:
"Today, the House of Delegates voted for human dignity. Speaker Busch and his fellow Delegates deserve a lot of credit for their hard work. At its heart, their vote was a vote for Maryland's children….Now, as the Senate prepares to vote, all of us are needed – and we're prepared to redouble our efforts. The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual. Love is an unalienable right," he expressed.
Opponents of the bill, however, like delegate Justin Ready, R-Carroll, stayed firm in their beliefs that the traditional definition of marriage should be upheld.
"My vote will be to maintain the current definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. This vote is not an attack on other relationships, it's a vote promoting the unique and special nature of the institution of marriage," Ready said ahead of the House vote.
The state Senate is expected to take up the legislation this week, and observers believe the bill has a good chance of being approved.