Now some more good news: in a poll released today, 51 percent of Maryland residents say they support same-sex marriage, with 44 percent against. That's huge news, for one very critical reason.
If the Maryland legislature moves marriage equality legislation forward (the bill is technically known as the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act), opponents of same-sex marriage have vowed to take advantage of a ballot measure procedure in the state, and put same-sex marriage up for a vote. Think California in 2008, or Maine in 2009. Only this will be Maryland in 2012.
Ballot measures are a tricky thing, of course. In the early days of the Prop 8 campaign, it looked like clear majorities of California voters supported marriage equality, even though the results showed otherwise on Election Day. Poll numbers only tell half of the story, and Election Day 2012 is so far down the road, it's hard to know what the political battlefield will look like by then.
Anti-gay activists, for their part, are already honing in on the state like a laser beam, launching a Web site pushing a ban on same-sex marriage in the state. Their motto? "When government embraces homosexuality, it FORCES us to do so as well."
Ah, such scary language, when the reality is that allowing two women or two men to marry in Maryland will have absolutely zero impact on any straight couple, whether we're talking Mr. and Mrs. Smith in Baltimore, or Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan in Cumberland.
Today, Freedom to Marry and Equality Maryland will hold a joint press conference, calling for swift passage of the Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act. It deserves passage. And then we pivot, and fight like hell to make sure that if and when a ballot measure is put before voters in 2012, we're as organized as ever to win. Maryland could become the sixth state to recognize same-sex marriage. But the important test will be whether it becomes the first state to beat back a discriminatory ballot measure.
petition text -
Maryland could be poised to become the next state to recognize the civil rights of same-sex couples, by enacting marriage equality legislation. I urge you to support efforts to do so, and make Maryland the sixth state in the country -- behind Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Iowa -- to allow gay couples the right to marry. Indeed, Maryland's neighbor, the District of Columbia, also recognizes the rights of same-sex couples to marry, and Maryland itself already recognizes same-sex marriages that take place in D.C. Why not recognize them for same-sex couples in your own state, too?
Please support this legislation. It's the right thing to do for fairness, for equality, for civil rights, and even for the economy.
Thank you for your time.
[Your name here]