May 4, 2012 at 2:31 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Md. marriage opponents claim more than 30,000 signatures

The group leading efforts to overturn Maryland’s same-sex marriage law in a referendum says it has gathered more than 30,000 petition signatures, more than half the amount needed to place the referendum on the ballot in November.

Under Maryland’s election law, 55,736 valid signatures are needed to place the referendum on the ballot. The law requires that one-third of that number be filed with the State Board of Elections by May 31, with the remaining number to be submitted by June 30.

“We have been extremely happy with the enthusiastic support of voters to stop the redefinition of marriage in its tracks,” said Derek McCoy of the Maryland Marriage Alliance in a statement on Wednesday.

Ray Goldstein, a spokesperson for the Maryland State Board of Elections, said the Alliance had not submitted any petitions to the election board as of Friday. He said he didn’t expect the group to do so until on or shortly before the May 31 deadline for submitting one-third of the required signatures.

“We’ve expected those who are opposed to all children having equal protections under the law to gather more than enough signatures to qualify for the ballot,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the organization leading the campaign to defeat the referendum and retain the marriage law.

“We’ll continue to monitor the signature effort and are preparing for the referendum campaign,” Levin said.

Public opinion polls show that Maryland voters are almost evenly divided for and against the same-sex marriage law. The most recent polls show voters in favor of keeping the law outnumber those wishing to overturn it by one or two percentage points.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance’s website shows that the group had scheduled more than 60 training sessions for volunteers being recruited to circulate the petitions beginning March 31 and continuing through May 22. Nearly all of the locations for the training sessions were churches or religious-oriented facilities located throughout the state.

Among the churches scheduled to host a training session on April 22 was Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Md., where Rev. Harry Jackson serves as pastor. Jackson led the unsuccessful campaign against D.C.’s same-sex marriage law in 2009.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • Heterosexuals are going to decide this issue, obviously. We are asking the ones who support gay marriage to take time off from work, drive to the polls, stand in line, and vote for something that doesn’t affect them at all. Obviously the people who think they are averting God’s wrath, preventing the downfall of western civilization, and protecting their marriages are more motivated. In the polls, the majority favor gay marriage, but in the issue is decided not by the people, not by registered voters, but by registered voters who are motivated to vote. Most likely we will lose.

    They want to prevent the “redefinition” of marriage, but their hatred and their ignorance is so blind they are willing to redefine America to do it. They are in favor of the redefinition of human rights, the redefinition of representative democracy, the redefinition of the independent judiciary, and the redefinition of majority rule in a way that codifies animus and legitimizes lynchings. This is like burning the house down to prevent a fire.

    If we let them redefine America, we’ll have to redefine the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance, for this will be the land of the mostly free and the sometimes brave, with liberty and justice for the people we approve of.

    Someone told me that marriage is for procreation. I said, that’s right. It’s even in the Bible in Genesis 3. However, that’s the curse! Procreation became necessary because of disobedience. The original definition of marriage is in Genesis 2. It was companionship and mutual aid between equals. Obviously they are living under a curse and we are not. Jealousy does not become them.

  • Some of the churches on the list of petition training sites are also general election polling places. That is a huge conflict of interest. Polling places should be neutral and non-political.

    Two churches that double as polling places are in Prince George’s. One even had a petition training on the same day as the Maryland Primary. If something shady happens in the general election, it will be at there. Is HRC going to have people be poll observers?

  • People were gathering signatures at Joel Osteen’s Stadium Event Sunday. Why weren’t EqualityMD down there trying to educate them?

  • One Man+ One Woman=Marriage.

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