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Freedom to Marry changes course, launches Maryland marriage PAC

Freedom to Marry changes course, launches Maryland marriage PAC

The Washington Blade has learned that Freedom to Marry has formed a political action committee that will allow it to raise money to defend Maryland’s same-sex marriage law, a change of course from earlier this year when the organization declined to join the coalition of groups defending the law.

Maryland State Board of Elections records indicate that the Freedom to Marry Maryland PAC with Teresa Williams of Cheverly as its chair was registered on Sept. 18. Williams’ partner, Jo Deutsch, who is Freedom to Marry’s federal director in D.C., is the PAC’s treasurer. Former Equality Maryland Board President Scott Davenport, who is Freedom to Marry’s COO, is listed as its deputy treasurer.

Michael Key, Washington Blade
Evan Wolfson

Maryland law requires that all PAC officers are registered to vote in the state.

“The PAC is basically a legal mechanism that’s required for reporting certain kinds of contributions so we really just have set it up to be able to do what we want to do consistent with the reporting legal requirements,” Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson told the Blade.

“Freedom to Marry has all along been assisting the campaign and providing certain kinds of help, and now obviously we’re all in the home stretch on these four ballot measures (in Maryland, Maine, Minnesota and Washington). And we all need to step up and do as much as we can to win as many of them as we can so we just really wanted to have the legal mechanism ready to basically keep helping and hopefully do more even as we focus on the states where we’ve also been pushing to get the victory that is our number one priority for the end of the year.”

The PAC’s registration comes in spite of Freedom to Marry’s announcement last year that it would not join the coalition of groups defending Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

“Freedom to Marry has made it clear to members of the coalition and to lawmakers that our goal is to win, not simply to pass a bill, if there is not sufficient groundwork and investment in a campaign to win at the ballot,” Wolfson told the Blade earlier this year.

“We have continued to press for clarity and progress on benchmarks for success, and have urged elected officials, national organizations, and advocates on the ground to show the plan, investment, and activities needed now to build public support and succeed at the ballot, not just the legislature,” he said.

Wolfson told the Blade last month that Freedom to Marry has provided what he described as a “huge amount of messaging, research and experience and council” to Marylanders for Marriage Equality. He said his group has also invited Marylanders for Marriage Equality to take part in “regular calls” between the four campaign managers to “coordinate and share best practices, brainstorm and problem solve.”

Freedom to Marry announced in August that its contributions to same-sex ballot measures in Maine and Washington and the campaign to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a man and a woman in Minnesota through its Win More States Fund had topped $3 million. It hopes to raise an additional $10 million for these campaigns by the end of the year.

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