|Governor Martin O'Malley Signs Maryland Marriage Equality Bill Into Law. Source: Facebook.|
|Members of Maryland's LGBT Caucus. Source: Facebook.|
Delegate Heather Mizeur: "Today we celebrate this historic moment and savor the sweet taste of equality on our lips. Tomorrow we roll up our sleeves and fight to defend this victory if it goes to a November ballot referendum."
Delegate Anne Kaiser: "Today is a great day for Maryland and for Maryland families. We are joining other states who believe that all citizens deserves the full rights and responsibilities of everyone else."
Governor O’Malley Makes History
ANNAPOLIS – Governor Martin O’Malley (D) today signed the Civil Marriage Protection Act into law, which provides legal protections to all children in the state, no matter who their parents are. The new law allows committed, loving gay and lesbian couples to get a marriage license while protecting religious liberty. Members of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the leading coalition working to bring civil marriage to Maryland, react to this milestone.
“My partner and I have been at this for two decades, and finally, this day has come,” said Lisa Polyak, Equality Maryland board member. “We are so happy for the coming generation of children and families, that they will know the protection and respect that a marriage license can bring. We are tremendously grateful to Governor O'Malley and legislators of Maryland who have created this victory of equality and dignity for families in Maryland."
Over the past few months religious leaders, including African-American ministers, have voiced their support for the Governor’s bill. Rev. Delman Coates, senior pastor at the 8,000-member Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Prince George’s County, and Donte Hickman, senior pastor of the Southern Baptist Church in Baltimore, were two of the more prominent and visible proponents of the new law. They testified before the Maryland legislature that the civil marriage bill in no way impacts religious convictions or religious liberty. Rev. Coates told the Washington Post his church attendance went up after he made his views on the bill known.
Opponents of marriage equality are expected to gather enough signatures to send the new law to the November ballot.
“I celebrate with my gay friends today,” said Ezekiel Jackson, political organizer with 1199 SEIU. “But we are clear that a referendum may be on the horizon. There is something uneasy about total strangers deciding whether my gay friends can marry and whether their kids can be protected equally under the law. All Maryland’s children, no matter who their parents are, should have the same legal protections.”
A January Washington Post poll showed—for the first time in the poll’s history-- 50% of Marylanders support marriage equality with 44% opposed. 63% of those under age 40 support same-sex marriage.
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. http://marylandersformarriageequality.org/