There are a lot of reasons why this is a good idea, but the most compelling one to me is that legalizing gay marriage makes our community, in this case the state of Maryland, a stronger place. We live in a world where not everyone looks like us, acts like us, or thinks like us. Some people respond by trying to ignore those differences at best and by using some legal or religious standing to inhibit them. Not surprisingly, this doesn't work, and like Sisyphus, social conservatives will repeatedly try to push that boulder marked "Traditional Values" up a hill, only to watch it roll back each time.
As I've written before, the people and places that recognize and embrace our differences are the ones that will succeed in the future. In 2004, Seattle's alternative weekly The Stranger dubbed these places, which are often liberal, educated, but most importantly diverse, the "Urban Archipelago." And it's in the archipelago where the economy seems to be doing okay, if not exactly thriving.
These places are valued for their tolerance of each other's differences. A few days ago, the New York Times wrote about affluent, foreign-born parents putting their kids in that city's public schools because they wanted them to be exposed to the world:
“When they go to public school, they’re in a whole new world, a whole world of different people and different values, which is what the world is like,” said Lyn Bollen, who grew up in Birmingham, England, and attended — and taught at — state-run schools. “Shielding them from that is doing them a disservice.”
I don't know if there's an actual correlation between gay marriage and economic prosperity. But we do know what intolerant places look like. Just look at poor Anoka, Minnesota, where Michelle Bachmann began her campaign of folksy, home-spun paranoia and bigotry while on the local school board. Her efforts created such a toxic environment for young people both gay and straight that they're struggling with a rash of suicides. Adam and Steve may be the downfall of the traditional family, but it seems inviting them into your community might produce healthy, well-adjusted kids.
Maryland could be that place, drawing the best and the brightest from across the United States and the world with the promise that no matter who you are, you are welcome here if you have something to contribute.
My mother is a pastor, and she brought me up to believe that God had a plan for each of us. I believe He has a plan for me. It happens to include me sleeping with men, but I get the feeling it's not the most important part. But as long as we focus on who Marylanders go to bed with, we prevent them from giving something greater to our state. In the end, it's not just gays who lose out. We all do.