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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 8, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 23
Maryland marriage law goes to Nov. repeal vote
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Maryland marriage law goes to Nov. repeal vote

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Opponents of Maryland's newly passed marriage equality law say they have more than twice the number of petition signatures needed to put the issue on the November ballot.

Under Maryland law, the Maryland Marriage Alliance, which is leading the drive to force a November referendum on Maryland's marriage equality law, has until June 30 to submit 55,736 valid voter signatures to have the law submitted to a public vote on November 6.

At least one-third of those signatures - 18,579 - were to be turned in on May 31, but the MMA appears to have collected many more signatures than are necessary to get on the ballot.

Polling indicates that a majority of Maryland voters support equal marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples, and an analysis of MMA's financial backing indicates that most of its support comes from outside the state.

A PPP poll released May 24 showed that 57% of likely voters would vote to uphold the law allowing same-sex marriage, while 37% would not.

The latest numbers reflect a 12-point shift in public opinion from an identical survey in early March. Both polls were commissioned by Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

Analysis by Baltimore's WBAL-TV 11 News I-Team, an NBC affiliate, shows that 65% of the anti-equality campaign's money cane from out of state, while only 35% came from Maryland residents.

Like a political campaign, sponsors of a petition drive are required to report where their money comes from, I-Team reporter David Collins said.

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) contributed $73,000 to the petition drive, the I-Team discovered. The Maryland Marriage Alliance donated $36,575, and the Maryland Catholic Conference put $4,293.45 into the campaign war chest.

Both sides say public opinion is on their side.

'The collection of those signatures does not reflect the growing momentum among Maryland voters,' said the Rev. MacArthur Flournoy, a spokesperson for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

'People's opinions are evolving as there's a larger community discussion of this,' said openly Lesbian State Delegate Heather R. Mizeur. 'When people see an issue in the news and talk about it at their kitchen tables, they are better able to wrestle with the issue at hand.'

'People that were on the fence are no longer on the fence. They're engaged,' Derek McCoy, with the Maryland Marriage Alliance, replied.

Both sides are actively courting Maryland's African-American community - nearly 30% of the state's population - but the latest PPP poll shows that pro-equality forces have the edge.

'Our PPP poll last week showed 57% would vote to uphold the law, with 37% voting against, if the election were held today,' said pro-equality campaign director Josh Levin.

'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.'

NAACP president Ben Jealous lives in Baltimore.

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