By Barry Rascovar
April 2, 2015–If only it had been an April’s Fool joke — but it wasn’t. Instead, a highly regarded Maryland state senator, who happens to be gay, got carried away with his anger over a discriminatory Indiana law and dragged the governor’s wife unwillingly into the conversation.
Sen. Richard Madaleno went too far. He crossed the line. His letter to the governor was hurtful to an innocent bystander.
Madaleno lost his credibility, and his argument, as soon as he dragooned Gov. Larry Hogan’s wife, Yumi, into his pitch for the governor to ban travel by state officials to Indiana.
Yumi Hogan, Madaleno wrote, could be subjected in Indiana to “public humiliation” under the new law and refused service by a business because she is a divorcee.
Spouses as Fair Game
It’s ludicrous statement. Worse than that, it unfairly makes a spouse fair game in rough-and-tumble political controversies.
How would Madaleno like it if the governor made a disparaging remark about the senator’s gay partner during a heated political debate?
It is unacceptable. Period.
Senate President Mike Miller did the right thing by telling senators “we don’t mention other people’s spouses in any type of correspondence — their spouses or children.”
Madaleno knows better.
He harmed his cause and his effectiveness in the State House. While his intentions were pure, his recklessness proved counter-productive.
Hogan rejected the senator’s letter as a “stunt.” He didn’t even bother reading beyond the offensive statement about his wife, who was needlessly reminded of a painful chapter in her life.
Rich Madaleno is respected for his fiscal expertise. He plays a major role in the legislature’s all-important budget deliberations.
Now, though, he’s persona non grata on the second floor of the State House. The governor isn’t going to accommodate his requests or give his statements much credence. He’s damaged his ability to help Montgomery County constituents.
The senator is right to protest loudly Indiana’s deeply disturbing and un-American law that sanctions discrimination (especially since more conservative states are following suit).
But in his haste and emotional distress, Madaleno made a mess of his message.