ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Gov. Martin O’Malley on Monday became the first sitting Maryland governor to appear before the annual pro-LGBT Lobby Day rally in Annapolis. The event, which was held at Lawyer’s Mall, attracted a raucous and diverse crowd of more than 500 with many representing religious and political organizations from all over Maryland.
They cheered enthusiastically as several speakers made the case for same-sex marriage. The crowd roared its approval at the news that Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a same-sex marriage bill into law earlier in the day. While gender identity non-discrimination was addressed during the rally, marriage was clearly the focus.
Sultan Shakir, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the umbrella organization for a coalition of organizations that is spearheading the marriage effort in the state, and Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, were the event’s emcees.
Speakers included Del. Keiffer Mitchell (D-Baltimore), Del. Ben Barnes (D-Anne Arundel, Prince George’s), Candace Jones-Gingrich, and Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard, Carroll). Kittleman remains the sole Republican in the Senate who is supporting the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples.
“I’m a proud Republican who supports marriage equality,” Kittleman said. “It’s not a partisan issue. There are thousands of Republicans in Maryland who support the principles of freedom, liberty and equality.”
The governor was introduced to loud cheers and chants of “O-Mal-ley!, O-Mal-ley!”
“We are united in our belief in the dignity of every individual,” he said. “It is not right that the children of lesbian and gay parents have lesser rights than the children of other parents.” The governor also expressed frustration with the animus from opponents. “I had enough of the division.”
As the crowd broke up to lobby their respective legislators on each of the two major LGBT legislative issues, the governor expressed cautious optimism concerning the votes in the House of Delegates.
“I think we’re doing a little better this week than we were last week, and we need to do better still,” O’Malley told the Blade. “We need to get a couple more.”