Maryland’s anti-gay groups submit enough signatures to put marriage equality on the ballot in November
May 30, 2012
By Scottie Thomaston
In Maryland, it’s inevitable that their recently-passed marriage equality bill will be on the ballot in November awaiting voter approval before it becomes law in the state. Right-wing churches, for the most part, led organizing efforts to gather signatures and mobilize voters for the upcoming vote, under the name Maryland Marriage Alliance. This week, the right-wing anti-gay groups are required to submit 18,579 signatures for the initiative. That number of signatures was due this upcoming Thursday. Yesterday, the groups submitted more than twice the amount of signatures that are due this week:
Opponents of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law have delivered more than twice the number of signatures needed to put a referendum on the law on November’s ballot.
Activists say they submitted 113,000 signatures on petitions on Tuesday — double the 55,736 needed to put the issue on the ballot. The state has 20 days to verify signatures.
The large number of signatures virtually guarantees there will be enough valid ones to meet the requirements:
The signatures must be verified by the State Board of Elections, but the surplus of names against gay nuptials all but ensures it will go before voters in the fall — adding even more significance to a presidential election in which social issues received greater prominence after President Obama publicly endorsed same-sex matrimony.
And O’Malley, with national political aspirations of his own, banked much of his political clout on delivering results to liberal supporters on the social issue.
“There’s still more work to be done and we are not taking anything for granted,” said O’Malley spokeswoman Raquel Guillory. “Recent poll numbers indicate that more and more Marylanders support marriage equality and religious freedom.”
Marylanders for Marriage Equality released a statement via press release:
“Given the low bar for petitioning a law to the ballot in Maryland, we’ve always expected same-sex marriage opponents to meet that threshold and then some—up to their stated target of 150,000.
“But don’t confuse meeting the legal requirement with intensity or measure of support. It’s clear those opposed to marriage equality are losing ground. Our PPP poll last week showed 57% would vote to uphold the law – with 37% voting against – if the election were held today. A surge in support among African American voters (to 55%) in the wake of endorsements by President Obama and the NAACP are key factors in that change. As we open two new campaign offices and build out a robust field operation to offer information, register, and mobilize voters this summer and fall, we will be looking to maintain this record-level of support for marriage equality in Maryland.
“Beyond polling and politics, let’s keep in mind what the likely referendum is all about: building stronger families and protecting every child under Maryland law. Only marriage provides such legal protections to children. Every family deserves dignity, just as every church deserves its freedom and liberty to marry who they want. Religious liberty is cherished and protected.”
It seems as though the marriage equality law could pass and Maryland could be the first state to keep a law affording marriage equality to gays and lesbians on the books after the voters have their say. Last week, a poll from Public Policy Polling showed that 57% of Marylanders say they are likely to vote for marriage equality when it’s up this November. We’re still six months out from the election and polls continue to trend in a positive direction.