Fight Is On in Maryland Over Marriage

BY Lucas Grindley

June 08 2012 3:33 PM ET

A fight is on in Maryland over whether the state will keep the marriage law it passed earlier this year.

Marriage equality opponents needed to gather more than 55,000 signatures to put a repeal of the law up to a majority vote of Maryland's citizens in November. The number of signatures deemed "valid" as part of an unofficial count has now climbed to 70,000, according to a tally posted on the state's website.

LGBT activists had already begun gearing up for a fight. Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition leading the campaign, announced today a long list of moves it has made to stop the repeal. It includes opening two campaign offices, hiring 12 field staffers, expanding its social media presence, and commissioning a poll that found Maryland voters overwhelmingly on the side of equality. Public Policy Polling found that 57% of voters would uphold the law and that African-Americans had made a huge swing after President Obama announced his support for marriage equality.

The "faith team" has already recruited a stable of religious leaders who are on its side to counter voices on the right who claim a monopoly on biblical views. It's a similar tactic to one being employed in Minnesota, where dozens of faith leaders are speaking out for marriage equality as just another example of the "love and commitment" that all marriages represent. That message has resulted in a 10-point swing in four months, according to a PPP poll, with independents driving fresh support for same-sex marriage. Now 49% of voters are against amending the Minnesota constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Washington voters could also face a referendum on whether to keep their state's marriage equality law. Signatures for a ballot initiative there have been turned in but still need to be deemed valid. One reason for activists to be hopeful is that Washington is one of the few states ever to pass a measure at the ballot box that affirmed same-sex relationships. In 2009 voters passed Referendum 71, which kept in place the state's "everything but marriage" version of domestic partnerships.

A recent poll in Washington by Strategies 360 found that 54% of voters say same-sex couples should be able to legally marry.

Also facing a ballot fight this November is Maine, where voters will have to decide whether to reverse a previous decision made at the ballot box in 2009, when voters scrapped the state's marriage equality law. Polls there also show marriage equality ahead early on.

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