Good On Ya for Standing Up for Your Principles. Now Go Away.

A business owner in Annapolis has found that his deeply-held convictions are about to come into conflict with the law, and rather than give up his principles, he’s going to, if not close up shop, then at least scale back shop:

An Annapolis company whose old-fashioned trolleys are iconic in the city’s wedding scene has abandoned the nuptial industry rather than serve same-sex couples.

The owner of Discover Annapolis Tours said he decided to walk away from $50,000 in annual revenue instead of compromising his Christian convictions when same-sex marriages become legal in Maryland in less than a week. And he has urged prospective clients to lobby state lawmakers for a religious exemption for wedding vendors.

(Source: Washington Post.)

This seems as clear a case I can imagine of a business owner having to choose between money and bigotry. He chose bigotry. I wish him the best of luck in not getting hit in the ass by the door on the way out.

As far as can make out, he’s not actually shutting down his business. He’s just pulling his business out (heh-heh) of the wedding business.

In case anyone’s wondering why he can’t just pick and choose his customers:

“If they’re providing services to the public, they can’t discriminate who they provide their services to,” said Glendora Hughes, general counsel for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights. The commission enforces public accommodation laws that prohibit businesses from discriminating on the basis of race, sexual orientation and other characteristics.

If your business is open to the public, it’s open to the public, not just to those parts of the public that you approve of. If a state passes a law saying “Jews and black people can shop anywhere that gentiles and white people can”, that’s great, but if you then add “unless the shop owner doesn’t feel like it”, that makes the law meaningless.

Predictably, the owner of Discover Annapolis Tours, Matt Grubbs, has his defenders:

Frank Schubert, the political strategist who ran campaigns against same-sex marriage in Maryland and three other states this year, said opponents predicted collateral damage from legalizing same-sex unions.

“This is exactly what happens,” Schubert said, adding that religious liberty is “right in the crosshairs of this debate. . . . The law doesn’t protect people of faith. It simply doesn’t.”

The first thing I note is that “religious liberty” here is used the same way as “states’ rights” in discussing the US Civil War: then, the states’ right in question was the right to own slaves. Here, the religious liberty at issue is the right to discriminate against gay people.

The second thing I note is the phrase “people of faith”. There’s just so much unthinking privilege packed into those three words. There’s the assumption that faith is a Good Thing; that believing things just ‘cos is something worth defending. And then there’s the assumption that all “people of faith” must agree with his views. I can name any number of self-professed “people of faith” who’d disagree with him.

Still, I suppose it could’ve been worse. At least Grubbs is complying with the law, rather than, say, suing for the right to discriminate. All the same: buh-bye.

Election Night Woot!

As I write this — and maybe I shouldn’t be writing this while I’m in no state to operate Internet machinery — a number of things have happened in the 2012 US election.

Obama has won reelection. Mittens is about to concede. Looks like Obama has won not only the Electoral Vote, but also the popular vote. So I guess the moral of the story is that you can’t buy an election without showing your tax returns or adopting a consistent policy on something.

Elizabeth Warren has won. Richard Mourdock has lost. Todd Akin has lost. According to various sources, Democrats have picked up a Senate seat or two.

Recreational marijuana will now be legal in Washington state.

Oh, and gay marriage will be legal in Maryland, Washington, and Maine. And Minnesota has rejected a constitutional amendment to ban it. So the homophobes can suck it. For years they’ve been using “every time gay marriage has been put to a vote, it has lost”, and now they won’t have that anymore. I’m not sure what they’re going to do now. I suspect they’ll blame electoral activism by unelected voters.

From what I’ve seen, Fox News’s spin is that most counties voted for Romney, so shenanigans. Or something. Also, Republicans might’ve done better if they’d deigned to adopt a platform reflecting 21st-century values. Like maybe that women and black people are humans too.

Anyway, thank you, America, and thank you Maryland. You done good tonight.

Gay Marriage Advancing in Maryland?

WaPo is reporting that a bill to allow same-sex marriage was introduced in the Maryland House and Senate.

It’s just a bill, yes it’s only a bill, and it’s sitting… um, in Annapolis-il? But still, I’m cautiously optimistic that it can pass. And if it does, that it won’t be overturned by referendum. Then again, I didn’t think Prop 8 would pass, so this isn’t a done deal.

Of course, Maryland has an argument that California doesn’t: gay couples can just catch the Metro or MARC train down to DC and get married there. I’m guessing that Annapolis would prefer if the money spent on weddings (and I don’t even want to think how much two wedding dresses cost) were spent in-state.

The same argument applies to Northern Virginia, but there’s the massive red southern part of the state (not to mention a comically-reactionary attorney general) holding them back. But once Maryland enacts marriage equality, Delaware might start worrying about its own wedding industry.

Headline O’ the Day

Takoma Park Man Beats Ex-Girlfriend with 18-Pound Crucifix

And the article contains this tidbit:

The victim bought herself time during the attack by telling the man to stop long enough to turn on a Barbie DVD for their two girls to watch in another room so they wouldn’t see the assault, authorities said.

Despite the implement in the headline, this appears to be a case of ordinary craziness, not religious craziness.

Catholic Clergy Have Their Own Psychiatric Hospital?

Today’s Post

A Silver Spring psychiatric hospital that specializes in treating Catholic clergy has been cited for problems that are “serious in nature,” according to a report from Maryland health officials who investigated the facility after a patient drowned himself in a bathtub there in January.

St. Luke, which sees about 600 people a year, almost all of them priests and nuns […]

The thrust of the story is about poor conditions at the hospital, it
being ill-equipped to deal with suicidal patients, and so forth. Which
is a scandal, but not what caught my attention, which was:

There’s a psychiatric hospital that specializes in priests and nuns?

There are hospitals that specialize in soldiers, like Walter Reed. And
I imagine there are psychiatric hospitals that specialize in police
officers and firefighters. But clergy? Really?

If it’s that stressful a lifestyle, then maybe they should rethink how
they’re doing it.

Why Don’t the Republicans Want My Vote?

I like Dean’s Fifty-State Strategy. For those who haven’t been following along, the idea is that for years, the Republicans and Democrats have been concentrating their campaign money where they think it’ll do the most good. Thus, for instance, the Democrats would realize that they’re not going to win some rural seat in Georgia, and therefore there’s no point in campaigning there. Then the Republicans would see that there’s no Democratic competition for that seat, and would concentrate their resources on a more disputed election, perhaps in Ohio or Missouri.

We all saw the 2000 and 2004 elections. So Dean apparently decided that the old was weren’t working so well anymore, and that the Democrats should actually spend money on every race in 2006, even the ones they can’t reasonably win.

The effect is at least twofold. For one thing, remember that dogcatcher race in rural Georgia? If the Democrats are actually spending money on it and putting up a fight, that means the Republicans can’t just take it for granted, and are going to have to spend money there as well, which is money they can’t spend in Missouri or Ohio.

The other effect is that stories are coming out about a resurgence of the Democratic party in unlikely places, like Alabama. Places where, in past election cycles, the Democratic party presence consisted solely of a PO box now have actual paid staffers, and people are getting to meet real live Democrats for the first time. This is all well and good and in the spirit of democracy, giving people a choice of candidates.

But I guess the Republicans didn’t get the memo. This November, I’ll be voting for or against Steny Hoyer, who has said a few stupid things recently. So I thought I’d see who the competition is.

As far asI can tell, there’s no Republican in that race. Apparently Ron Miller was running, but decided to switch to the Senate race. But no Republican will take the Maryland 5th house seat, because they haven’t put up a candidate.

I sent them mail yesterday asking about that, but I’m not terribly hopeful. I sent them mail in April asking for a platform document (no snark or anything; just a straight request), and never heard back.

Which brings me to the question in the subject: apparently the Republicans don’t want my vote. Why not?

Update, Aug. 11, 2006: I actually got a response from the MD GOP. My request:

Hi! I’ve been trying to find out who will be the GOP candidate in Maryland’s 5th Congressional district this November. I’ve searched the web site, but haven’t been able to find this information.

If you could help, I’d appreciate it.


Their response:

There is no Republican candidate going against Steny Hoyer this year. We originally had one candidate, Ron Miller, running but he decided that running against Mike Miller in the state Senate presented a better opportunity for success and impacting the people of the district. There was one other candidate who thought about getting into the race, but decided at the last minute that his time and energy was better spent re-electing Governor Ehrlich, electing Michael Steele to the U.S. Senate and bringing more Republicans into the General Assembly.

Thank you for your email. I hope this information helps.


Audra Miller
Communications Director
Maryland Republican Party