Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Maryland's First Muslim State Delegate Supports Marriage Equality

Maryland's first Muslim politician, District 39 state delegate Saqib Ali, came out in support for marriage equality recently in an op-ed for Maryland's community newspaper, the Gazette.
Proposition 8 was probably the single biggest electoral setback in the history of the gay rights movement. However Proposition 8's passage may have sown the seeds of its own demise. And I am hopeful that in the long run, it will be seen as a pyrrhic victory for opponents of equal rights.


My stance on this issue isn't politically expedient. I am the first Muslim in the legislature. Homosexuality is strictly forbidden in Islam. As such I have evinced much grief from my most conservative supporters.

But I recognize that I represent people of all faiths and no faith at all. If I tried to enforce religion by law — as in a theocracy — I would be doing a disservice to my both constituents and to my religion.
Saqib Ali goes on to say that due to "nakedly political calculations," he believes Maryland won't see marriage equality until October 2011. In the meantime, the state's attorney general, Douglas Gansler, may interpret Maryland's law as allowing the state to recognize legal same-sex marriages performed outside its borders.

Yesterday, Ali was interviewed on NPR with Michel Martin.
What I feel is that people have elected me to not only do what is popular but to do what is right, and I think that's the real definition of a leader. If they just wanted me to do the popular thing, there would really be no point of me being there. I could just, you know, run some polls and put a finger up to the wind and vote that way. But if people always did what was popular only, we probably would never have had the Civil Rights Act in the '60s, and lots of other good ideas would not have become the law of the land. So personally, it's against my religion.


I represent people who are of all faiths and of no faiths, and if I simply try to force my religion onto all these people and the people of Maryland, as they do in a theocracy, I would be doing a disservice to my constituents and a disservice to my religion, in fact.


Well, to the members of the clergy and to my family members who are very upset at me, I say, look, I understand that you disagree, and if you are opposed to this, I strongly urge you not to perform same-sex marriages. If you're uncomfortable with it, do not perform them in your church, do not approve them personally, but let those people in this state who want those same rights and protections that come with civil marriage, let them have that. Because it doesn't affect my marriage, it doesn't affect anybody else's marriage, it doesn't harm us in any way.
Thank delegate Saqib Ali by contacting him and expressing your support for his stance.

No comments:

Post a Comment