Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marriage Equality Proponents Prepare to Defeat Rightwing Referendum

PRESS RELEASE: As Legislative Process Ends, Referendum Begins in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS – Following the successful vote in the House of Delegates last week, the Maryland Senate today approved the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which enables committed gay and lesbian couples to get a civil marriage license. While the Governor has stated his strong desire to sign the bill, the next step is likely to be the November ballot, where voters will support or oppose marriage equality.

“We’re fortunate to be riding a huge wave of momentum as we enter the referendum process,” said Sultan Shakir, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “There is still a lot of work to do over the coming months, but we think voters will ultimately agree that all children, no matter who their parents are, should be protected under the law. Marriage equality is about building strong, stable families.”

A Washington Post poll released last month shows a majority of Marylanders support same-sex marriage.

Opponents of marriage equality are expected to begin obtaining the requisite 55,736 signatures necessary to refer the Civil Marriage Protection Act to the general election ballot this November - pending all legal requirements are met pertaining to the signature collection process.

In the coming weeks, Marylanders for Marriage Equality will be undertaking a significant public education and engagement campaign to let voters know the Civil Marriage Protection Act strengthens all families and protects religious liberty.

Each coalition partner, including 1199 SEIU, ACLU of Maryland, Equality Maryland, Human Rights Campaign, Progressive Maryland and others – is grateful to all senators, particularly Senators Ferguson, Forehand, Frosh, Garagiola, Gladden, Jones-Rodwell, Kelley, King, Kittleman, Madaleno, Manno, McFadden, Montgomery, Pinsky, Pugh, Ramirez, Raskin, Robey, Young, and Zirkin who cosponsored the bill.

 “We want to thank the senators who cast their votes today in favor of equality for all the families in Maryland. Their unwavering commitment has helped ensure we provide protections and dignity to our families,” explains Carrie Evans, Executive Director of Equality Maryland.

“1199 SEIU members stand with our Delegates and Senators who voted for marriage equality. Their vote makes Maryland and all its working families stronger,” said Ezekiel Jackson of 1199 SEIU.

“We’re one step closer today to full equality for all families,” said Melissa Goemann, legislative director of ACLU of Maryland. “Legislators have voted to protect religious liberty while allowing for equal protection under the law for same-sex couples and their families.”

“Committed gay and lesbian couples and their children are on the road to being protected equally under the law due to the efforts of the Senate today,” said Kate Planco-Waybright, interim executive director of Progressive Maryland.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality is the coalition—including 1199 SEIU, Equality Maryland, Progressive Maryland, Human Rights Campaign, ACLU of Maryland, and others—working to bring civil marriage equality to Maryland.


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