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Are politicians supposed to do what they think is best for the people they represent? Or are they supposed to do what the people they represent want them to do? Or is it somewhere in between?

When it comes to practical government — laws regarding traffic or spending or other tangible things — politicians are supposed to have more experience and be more knowledgeable than their constituents. But when it comes to the ethical and more issues, who’s to say who’s right and who’s wrong? And, should our elected officials vote for what they believe, or for what they think their voters believe?

I got into this discussion, albeit a brief one, with my family over dinner last week. We were talking about the gay marriage bill being tackled this session by the Maryland General Assembly, and I noted how Harford County’s senators were all against the bill. (A few days after this discussion, all three voted against it.) That’s not surprising to me since Harford County has grown more and more Republican in its philosophy, and gay marriage is hardly a conservative notion.

There are a lot of people in Harford County who support gay marriage. My husband and I are two of them. We’ve had this discussion often, especially with what is going on in Annapolis and how it is dominating news coverage. We’re both of the mind that if two people, any two people, want to get married, there shouldn’t be anything to stop them.

I didn’t used to think that way. I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call myself a homophobe (others might, though), but I thought homosexuality was wrong. It just didn’t seem right to me. But I never knew anyone who was openly gay; I’d never really been exposed to it.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten married and had my own kids, but I’ve changed my opinion about a lot of things I used to think were wrong, homosexuality among them.

Opponents will argue it’s not normal, it’s not natural, but who’s to say what is these days. There are so many unusual situations we encounter every day, it seems the only thing normal anymore is the abnormal.

I have friends who are gay. They’re your average, run-of-the-mill people, no different from you and I, other than their sexual preferences. Does that make them bad, or outcasts? It certainly shouldn’t. But sadly, in our society, if oftentimes does.

If a woman wants to marry a woman, or a man wants to marry a man, so be it. Let them enjoy the same benefits a heterosexual does. Let them be married, legally, let their unions have significance, so that if the couple has children, both have equal right to that child if something happened to one of them. Let one spouse be able to make decisions for the other should one be incapacitated. Let one of the couple be legally entitled to half of what their partner has, should one of them die.

Why can’t that be the case? The Bible says marriage is between a man and a woman, but God also wants everyone to be happy, and that, to me, is the more important thing. The law also defines marriage as between a man and woman, but laws can be changed.

So back to my original question. What if most Harford residents were OK with allowing homosexuals to marry, not just enter a civil union? Would our senators still vote against it, or would they listen to their constituents and vote for something they might be ethically against?

I think they should do what their constituents want. It’s not really their call to make as to what’s best for the community — that’s up to the community. And in the case of gay marriage, the only way that will happen is if the bill before the Maryland General Assembly goes to a referendum and the voters get to decide. That seems like it will be the only fair way.


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