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.