May 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Md. marriage referendum supporters submit 113,000 signatures

Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Same-sex marriage opponents claimed on Tuesday that they have collected enough signatures to place the issue before Maryland voters in November.

Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference outside the Maryland Secretary of State’s office in Annapolis that his organization submitted 113,000 signatures. They have yet to be certified, but the group submitted more than double the 55,736 signatures necessary to place the referendum on the ballot.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance hopes to collect 150,000 signatures by the June 30 deadline.

The group did not immediately return the Blade’s request for comment, but a Public Policy Polling survey last week found that 57 percent of Marylanders would vote for the same-sex marriage law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in March. The same PPP poll found that 55 percent of the state’s black voters back marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced its support of nuptials for gays and lesbians during their National Board of Director’s quarterly meeting in Miami on May 19.

“Given the low bar for petitioning a law to the ballot in Maryland, we’ve always expected same-sex marriage opponents to meet that threshold and then some—up to their stated target of 150,000,” said Josh Levin, campaign director for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “But don’t confuse meeting the legal requirement with intensity or measure of support. It’s clear those opposed to marriage equality are losing ground.”

Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) echoed Levin.

“We’ve always been planning to fight a referendum fight,” she told the Blade as she discussed the likely referendum. “We know when this comes to referendum we’re going to win. Public opinion is continuing to evolve rapidly and support is on our side.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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