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Sam Arora
Details are emerging over the legislative aide that tendered his resignation in protest over Democratic Maryland House of Delegate Sam Arora's no vote on marriage equality Friday. (For background on this story, see The strange flip-flop of MD's Sam Arora on marriage equality.)

Joshua Lapidus, Arora’s legislative director, quit Friday night just after the marriage vote. The Washington Blade, has what they call the "scathing resignation letter."

“I respect you and your beliefs, however I cannot respect your decision to place personal religious belief over the roles and responsibilities of the stewardship the people of District 19 entrusted unto you,” Lapidus wrote. He added, “It saddens me that you are standing against the tide of history and ending your career over an issue that will no doubt be decided in the affirmative, with or without your vote, over the next couple years.  So, I write this letter to inform you that if you vote don’t vote for HB 438 l can no longer work under your employ.”...

“We have a right to be religious. You have a right to disagree with the marital union between not just a man and a woman. But we do not have the right to impose our religious beliefs on the people of Maryland and impede societal progress. You will be on the wrong side of history and l will not have any part in it.”

This lends credence to the rumors that Arora's no vote was based on religious objections.

Del. Arora himself has thus far refused to comment to any press or constituents why he voted against the bill he once promised to support and even once co-sponsored. Tuesday he begins day eight of social media silence, a long time for the previously chatty delegate, who would post or tweet several times a day. He did return an email to the Blade, but would only say:

“I don’t comment on personnel issues. That said: Josh continues to be a friend, and I wish him well.”
Well, props to Mr. Lapidus (whose Facebook page includes this quote: "Those who stand for nothing fall for anything."—Alexander Hamilton). Very often we hear people say, "That person should resign over this outrage or that outrage in protest." Very rarely to people do so. Hopefully Mr. Lapidus will land on his feet soon enough, if he hasn't already. I'm sure he will.

There may well have been sound political reasons for Lapidus to distance himself from the newly radioactive delegate. Elsewhere in the Blade article, sources are reporting, among the tactics Democratic Governor Martin O'Malley used to persuade Arora to support the Governor's initiative was telling the young delegate his career would be over if he didn't.

And feedback from yesterday's diary include these reports from folks in the area that intend to make it so. First from kossack USSF Ref:

He's toast

I happen to be a Dem operative in Montgomery County, and word is he's being frozen out. Not only did he vote no on the floor, he abstained in the Judicial Committee vote as well.

He's the only delegate from Montgomery County who voted no. His district (MD-19) is solidly Dem, so unless he's planning a move to the Eastern Shore or Garrett County, he has no future in politics.

SKDKnickerbocker partner Hilary Rosen
And this from kossack JR:
We locals have been planning to take him down

...since last year. He might not have gotten the full-court press from national figures (though I heard Hilary Rosen was ready to go after him with a tube sock full of wood screws), but the national activists like Aravosis combined with locals like, well, me, would have been there no matter what he did this time around. Nobody has any faith in him anymore.

This comment really should have gotten more than one rec, if only for the "tube sock full of wood screws." We could fully fund a challenger by selling tickets to Hilary Rosen chasing Arora through Annapolis with a "tube sock full of wood screws." Speaking purely figuratively, of course, no one would ever wish any bodily harm to come to Arora, of course, from tube socks full of wood screws or anything else. Regardless, Rosen has more potent weapons at her disposal.

And I think JR can rest assured, if and when calls go out to the "national activists" they will be more than happy to respond. (Tweet me.)

And if you're wondering why Arora is too busy to answer press inquiries or speak to anyone about his vote, this tidbit on how he's been filling his time not talking to his disappointed constituents comes courtesy of Maryland Juice:

An anonymous source in Annapolis tells Maryland Juice that temporary Delegate Sam Arora appears to be defiant about lying his way into office. Last Friday, the dishonest lawmaker broke a campaign promise to support marriage equality -- and he never found the courage to tell his constituents why. But apparently he has time to meet with the Catholic Conference -- one of the groups leading the charge against marriage equality in Maryland. Their newly promoted archbishop has been trying to stoke anti-equality feelings in Maryland. Check out the online chat dialogue below:
Aide: Sam Arora. Jeez. The Catholic Conference was in his office and he was giving some speech to them.

Juice: Did you hear any of it?

Aide:  No. Just the multiple rounds of loud applause. He's walking around all cocky. He doesn't care.

Blech. Enjoy your new friends, Sam. I think our men in dresses are a whole lot more fun than the Catholic Church's men in dresses. I guess your mileage may vary.

For what it's worth, I'm hearing the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is not a terribly popular crew with Democrats these days.

Can I ask, did they only applaud you on your marriage equality vote? Or did they seize the opportunity to lobby you on the great evil of allowing women to have access to contraception as well?

Update: John Aravosis at AmericaBlog isn't buying the "religious concerns" explaination, he says:

Please folks, don't fall for the "it's his religion" crap.  If it were his religion, he'd have had a problem with marriage from the beginning, and he didn't.  He only had a problem after something mysteriously happened over a 3 day period in February of last year.  The very fact that Arora can't enunciate what happened, refuses to ever answer phone calls or emails from close friends about what happened, suggests that what actually did happen is a lot worse than simply "his religion."
The link is to a weird interview in Metro Weekly with an Arora constitutent:
"But perhaps most shocked by Arora's changed position on the marriage bill is Lisa Deane-Polyak, who has been with her partner Gita for 30 years. They have a daughter together, and Deane-Polyak shared her story with Arora, face to face, during a Feb. 21 Gertrude Stein Young Democrats gathering.

"I had a conversation with him at length," she says.

"We talked about the fact that his family is originally from India, as is my partner, and where our families where from, respectively, in India. I thanked him for his support of marriage equality and he said it was something he believed in. I had a face-to-face conversation with him."

Deane-Polyak says Arora's changed stance is contradictory on many levels.

"It contradicts our conversations. It contradicts his co-sponsorship of the bill, it contradicts his candidate questionnaire which is signed with his own hand. Something very serious has come up for him, and it's just not clear what that is or why."

Very weird.

Originally posted to Milk Men And Women on Tue Feb 21, 2012 at 09:25 AM PST.

Also republished by Maryland Kos.

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