Praise for stand on gays

The Political Game

Glendening: The governor's bill to ban discrimination failed, but the effort has won him the admiration of homosexuals nationwide.

May 18, 1999|By Thomas W. Waldron | Thomas W. Waldron,SUN STAFF

GOV. PARRIS N. Glendening's bid to enact a law banning discrimination against gay men and lesbians might have been defeated by a Senate committee last month, but the governor is still winning kudos from the gay community.

Glendening is the subject of a laudatory profile in the May 25 issue of the Advocate, the national gay and lesbian magazine.

In an interview with the magazine, Glendening offered new details on his unsuccessful effort to win General Assembly approval for the anti-discrimination measure.

Among those who sent him notes of support was President Clinton, who told Glendening: "Your brother would have been proud of you."

In pushing the bill, the governor said often that he had been inspired by his younger brother Bruce, who was gay and died of AIDS, and who feared that disclosure of his sexual orientation would end his Air Force career.

Glendening also told the magazine that he had met some of his brother's partners, a detail he had not mentioned in earlier interviews.

He discussed vitriolic letters he received from opponents of the bill -- letters "dripping" with anti-gay rhetoric. Glendening suggested that such letter-writers might be confused about their sexual orientation.

"I'm convinced that if you spend your life worrying about what's going on in someone else's bedroom, then you are not secure about what's going on in your own bedroom," he told the Advocate.

It is unusual for the magazine to profile a governor, but Editor Judy Wieder said Glendening's experience with a gay relative will likely resonate with the public.

"I think it's wonderful," said Wieder. "Here's a man stepping up to the plate and saying why he supports gay rights. There's nothing like the human connection to make you realize that this could be happening to you or one of your relatives."

Coincidentally, the same issue has an interview about Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, noting his support for gay rights as well.

A vocal opponent of Glendening's measure has tried to capitalize on the issue.

Sen. Alex X. Mooney, a freshman Republican from Frederick County and one of a band of conservatives that killed the governor's bill in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, promoted his effort in a press release.

In the release, which was sent to Business Week magazine among other publications, Mooney portrayed the legislation's defeat as a boon to Maryland businesses.

Open GOP primary faces conservative opposition

Maryland Republican Party Chairman Richard D. Bennett is optimistic that his proposal to open the GOP presidential primary next year to independent voters will win approval from the party at its convention this weekend.

The move is designed to broaden the party's appeal to independents, the fastest-growing segment of the state's voting populace, who make up 12 percent of all registered voters. Only registered Republicans can vote in the GOP primary.

The idea has won support from Ellen R. Sauerbrey, the party's gubernatorial nominee the past two elections. (Bennett was Sauerbrey's running mate last year.)

But some in the party's conservative wing oppose the move, which they say will blur the distinctions between GOP and Democratic candidates.

About 20 Republican elected officials have written to members of the party's central committee urging them to carefully weigh the ramifications of an open primary.

Del. Donald E. Murphy, a Baltimore County Republican who opposes the open primary, said it would drive up campaign costs for GOP candidates forced to woo independent voters and would discourage longtime party faithful from voting.

"What do you say to those who have been Republicans forever? Your vote counts the same as someone who has no known political ideology?" Murphy said.

Some Republican activists predict that the open primary debate will further alienate the party's most conservative members, many of whom were disappointed by Sauerbrey's effort to moderate her message last year in her unsuccessful battle with Glendening.

"I see the same kind of rift being created that we had in 1988," said one party activist, referring to a war between moderates and conservatives in the Maryland GOP.

Townsend leads delegation on four-day Estonia visit

Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend leaves today for a four-day trip to Estonia to promote academic and economic development ties.

Townsend will be joined by Lt. Gen. James F. Fretterd of the Maryland National Guard, four state delegates and the mayors of Annapolis and Salisbury, both of which have sister-city relationships with Estonian cities.

The Maryland delegation will fly on a U.S. military plane but will pay the cost of their hotel stays themselves, said Howard S. Freedlander, spokesman for the Maryland National Guard. Aside from the air travel, the cost of the trip to state and federal agencies will reach about $6,000, Freedlander said.

Pub Date: 5/18/99

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