Tom Sherwood's Notebook: 03/10/10

By Tom Sherwood
|  Thursday, Mar 11, 2010  |  Updated 12:15 AM EDT
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A History-Making ... Snooze?

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After a nationwide battle over same-sex marriage, it appears the issue landed with a thud in the nation's capital when it comes to criticism and opposition.

Even the Conservative Political Action Committee's recent meeting in Washington barely paid attention. One poll geared toward the younger voters of the group said only 1 percent was interested in battling same-sex marriage issues. Meanwhile, 80 percent believed in individual freedom and limited government.

The Notebook will admit to being surprised.

Back when at-large D.C. Council member David Catania started talking about introducing the bill, and throughout the debate and vote on marriage equality, nearly every story of ours ended with a "yes, however" sentence. We were almost certain that Congress would not stand idly by on this issue.

But it did. That's not to say that some future conservative Congress won't intervene, but it seems less likely as time goes by.

"The reality is that as long as Democrats control the operations of Congress, there's nothing [the conservatives] could do to intervene on marriage equality," said gay activist Peter Rosenstein.

Rosenstein said there could be new attacks on the law when the city's next budget passes through Congress, but he said activists "vow to be vigilant."

A number of events seem to reflect the mood of conservative disengagement.

Many conservatives, such as Gov. Bob McDonnell, R-Va., decided that harping on divisive social issues was not the way to base a campaign in the midst of the nation's economic troubles.

Younger people by margins of 70 percent or so dismiss same-sex marriages as a non-issue.

Older conservative adults see that even former Vice President Dick Cheney -- no one can call him a traitor to conservatism -- accepts the reality of gay people. One of his daughters is gay.

"Population-wise," Rosenstein said, "people are moving toward accepting marriage equality."

The state-level battles nationwide will continue from Maine to California. But more than a few people are surprised -- whether they're pleased or angry -- that the nation's capital so seamlessly stepped out front on this issue.

• Kojo & Tom

The following is blatant promotion. But it's a good thing.

WAMU's Kojo Nnamdi and I will be co-hosting this year's D.C. Embassy Chef Challenge on March 18 at the House of Sweden along the Potomac River.

The challenge is a fundraiser for Cultural Tourism DC, the group that puts a real face on local Washington history and current events.

Ten chefs from embassies will compete in a taste test for "Chef of the Year." The good news is that the audience gets to taste and vote on everything. Beer and wine are included.

Moroccan Embassy chef Nazha Kassraoui is returning to defend her title from last year's inaugural event. The judges will include Jon Yonan, food and travel editor at The Washington Post, and Carla Hall, a "Top Chef" finalist from Alchemy Caterers.

The fundraiser is also a warm-up to Cultural Tourism's popular May event -- PassportDC -- during which dozens and dozens of embassies open their doors for tours and entertainment.

Linda Harper, executive director of Cultural Tourism, told the Notebook, "This is a wonderful example of how we can highlight the great international culture and cuisine in Washington."

For details on the chef challenge, check out culturaltourismdc.org.

Kojo and your Notebook are making our first joint appearance since he invited me last year to join the "Politics Hour" at noon on Fridays.

We may not always know what we're talking about, but we do know how to eat. Join us on March 18.

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