News (USA)

Gay marriage foes say they have signatures to put issue on Maryland ballot

Gay marriage foes say they have signatures to put issue on Maryland ballot

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Opponents of same-sex marriage in Maryland announced Tuesday they have collected more than twice the number of signatures needed to put the state’s new marriage equality law to a public vote on November’s ballot.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance, a coalition of groups working to preserve the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman, said it had collected more than 113,000 voter signatures; only 56,000 signatures were needed to bring the law to a referendum.

The Civil Marriage Protection Act passed the Maryland legislature earlier this year and was signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley on March 1.

Opponents seeking to prevent the law from taking effect had until June 30 to collect 55,736 valid voter signatures to force a statewide vote; only one-third of those signatures were required to be submitted by Thursday.

“What we are seeing is that countless thousands of Marylanders around this state want to see marriage go on the ballot,” said Derek McCoy, Executive Director of Maryland Marriage Alliance. “But they also want to see it defined and upheld between one man and one woman.”

But according to a Public Policy Poll released last week, a decisive majority (57 percent) of Maryland voters said they would vote in favor of same-sex marriage if it’s on the ballot this fall, while 37 percent would vote against.

The 12-point swing in support from two months earlier is largely due to growing African-American support in Maryland since both President Barack Obama and the NAACP endorsed marriage equality for same-sex couples.

“We’re approaching a super majority who want to uphold the state’s new marriage law,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

“The message of stronger families and greater fairness is resonating, and we’re confident Maryland will be the first state to win a ballot measure on marriage equality and religious freedom,” Levin said.

Opponents’ signatures must be submitted to the Secretary of State, then processed and validated by the state Board of Elections.

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