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Monday, February 28, 2011

Equality Never Comes Easy: Maryland, Rhode Island and New Hampshire All Need Your Help.

Last week, the Maryland Senate voted 25-21 to legalize same-sex marriage. With that vote, many thought that the legislation was all but passed; the House of Delegates would surely make short work of the bill, with its 96-45 Democratic majority, six openly gay members, and a reputation for being more liberal than the Senate. Not so fast. In the last couple of days disturbing reports have been circulating around LGBT sites, saying that they votes are not there, and that NOM and its allies are furiously trying to derail support.

In Rhode Island, marriage equality is back on the table as the legislature comes back into session after a week-long recess. Hearings were held in the House several weeks ago and a vote to bring the bill out of committee could happen at any time. If and when a vote of the full House will take place is yet unknown.

In New Hampshire, the Judiciary Committee which held hearings a couple of weeks ago will take its vote tomorrow on bills to repeal marriage equality. It is likely but not certain that the committee will vote to 'retain' the bills -- that is, hold them over until next year -- instead of releasing them for a House vote.


  • What you can do for Maryland
  • What you can do for Rhode Island
  • What you can do for New Hampshire

What you can do for Maryland:

First, a bit of background. Maryland is at a critical juncture. A vote in the House of Delegates could come as early as Friday, and supporters say they have 'about' 69 of the 71 votes they need for passage. According to the Baltimore Sun, there are 58 sponsors of the bill in the House. But

A warning signal that support in the House could diminish surfaced earlier in the week when Del. Melvin Stukes (D-Baltimore City), a co-sponsor of the marriage bill for the past four years, withdrew his sponsorship...

Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County), one of the House's five lesbian members, said concern over possible erosion of support among delegates prompted supporters to scrap an earlier strategy calling for bringing the bill up for a vote at the very end of the House of Delegates session in April.

Washington Blade


A majority of members on the House committee support gay marriage and passage appears assured. However, supporters on Friday acknowledged they have yet to lock down a majority in the House...

"We have about 69 of the 71 firm commitments that we need," Mizeur told Baltimore's NBC affiliate WBAL. "And we have more than a handful of folks who are undecided but leaning our way that we think will be able to deliver in the coming days."

On Top Magazine

Whenever someone says they have 'about' a certain number of votes, and that number isn't a majority, that is not a good omen...

Testimony was heard on Friday by the House committee responsible for the bill, and a vote to get it out of committee is expected early this week. A vote in the full House could happen as early as Friday.

Of course the opposition is spewing its usual lies:

"Homosexuality will be taught at some level to children attending public schools as has been ordered by the court in various states," ((Representative)) Dwyer said during a morning press conference on Friday.

The Maryland Republican Party has begun blanketing parts of the state with robocalls, which tell voters that Democrats are working to "destroy traditional marriage."

"They are eroding the values [this] country and state were founded on by redefining marriage," a female says in the message.

On Top Magazine

So What can you do to help? Maryland's Delegates need to hear from their constituents! They need to know NOM and it's allies are not the only people who can pick up a telephone. Calls now are critically important.

If you live in Maryland you can call your Delegate:

Maryland House of Delegates members by name

If you don't know who your Delegate is, you can use this tool from Equality Maryland:

Contact your Maryland legislator.

If you know someone who lives in Maryland, call them and have them call their Delegate. Tell them to tell their friends to do so too.

Maryland House Delegates by District with map

If you know someone who knows someone who lives in Maryland, call them and have them call their friend to tell them to call their Delegate.


Even if the bill in Maryland passes, the fight has only begun. There will almost certainly be a referendum in November of 2012 at which time the people of Maryland will decide whether to reject equality or validate it. That will be a long and bitter fight, and of course funds will be needed.

What you can do for Rhode Island:

The House committee vote could come at any time.

If you live in the state, call and/or write your representative.

If you don't live in the state, Marriage Equality Rhode Island has a phone from home program that allows you to call Rhode Island voters. I'm sure they'd welcome donations too.

What you can do for New Hampshire:

The Judiciary Committee votes will happen tomorrow.

If you live in the state, this blog post at Blue New Hampshire by former Representative Jim Splaine (who sponsored New Hampshire's marriage equality law) sets out an action plan. One immediate need is to contact members of the Judiciary Committee.

More contact information and tools can be found at the New Hampshire Freedom to Marry Coalition web site. Donations can be made from this page, and that money will come in handy for a fight that could stretch out for the next year or even longer.

So there you have it. Now do it.

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