The Battle for Marriage Equality Is Officially On in Maryland

The daughter of a Maryland state senator adds her signature to the legislation extending certain rights short of marriage to same-sex couples in the state.<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/terrancedc/2527941968/sizes/m/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Flickr/TerranceDC</a>


The Maryland Board of Elections officially certified on Tuesday that opponents of the state’s recently passed same-sex marriage law have enough signatures to put the matter to a referendum. That means voters will decide in November whether Maryland’s same-sex couples have the right to get married. 

Opponents of same-sex marriage in Maryland exceeded the number of required signatures by an order of magnitude. According to Maryland law, it would have taken about 56,000 signatures to put the law to referendum. Marriage equality opponents put forth more than 160,000, only about six thousand of which have been invalidated so far. Now both pro- and anti-same-sex marriage groups will be able to set up ballot committees whose funding won’t be released to voters until October, shortly before Marylanders vote on the law.

For once, the National Organization for Marriage, America’s main anti-marriage equality group, may be operating at a disadvantage. Black Marylanders once supported banning gay marriage, but that changed after President Barack Obama endorsed marriage equality. While earlier polls showed more than 50 percent of black voters opposed to same-sex marriage, the Democratic-leaning polling firm Public Policy Polling found in May that a majority of black voters now support same-sex marriage rights. And even before black voters flipped, polls showed that Marylanders overall opposed banning gay marriage.

Maryland’s marriage equality law isn’t set to take effect into 2013. Wade Kach, a Maryland Republican delegate who supported the marriage equality bill, nevertheless added an amendment to the bill ensuring no marriages would take place before marriage equality opponents could contest it via referendum. Kach was concerned about the recent federal court ruling that found California’s Proposition 8, the ballot iniative that stripped Californian same-sex couples of their marriage rights, unconstitutional in part because it took rights away that had already been given. This way, if Marylanders ban same-sex marriage, marriage rights advocates won’t be able to use that same argument in court because no same-sex couples will have been able to get married yet. 

Marriage equality opponents have reasons to be confident. After all, they’ve never lost a referendum. On the other hand, it’s looking very possible that Maryland will be one of the first states to buck the trend.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.