July 11, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Maryland election officials certify same-sex marriage referendum petition
Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, gay politics dc, same-sex marriage, gay marriage

Marylanders for Marriage Equality. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland election officials on Tuesday officially certified a petition to prompt a November referendum on the state’s same-sex marriage law

The Maryland Marriage Alliance submitted 122,481 signatures to the Secretary of State on May 29—and State Board of Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone wrote in a letter to the organization’s chair, Derek McCoy, that her office certified 109,313 of them. The organization submitted an additional 39,743 signatures late last month.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance needed to collect 55,736 signatures by June 30 to bring the issue to a vote.

“We had absolutely no doubt that we would secure and even surpass the number of signatures needed,” said Derek McCoy, chair of the Maryland Marriage Alliance. “Our alliance of partners has been working tirelessly to make sure that every registered voter in the state has an opportunity to let their voice be heard on this very important issue.”

Supporters of marriage rights for same-sex couples said they are not surprised that the Maryland Marriage Alliance was able to collect enough signatures to put the issue before voters.

“We’ve been planning for the referendum for months and are ready to roll,” Marylanders for Marriage Equality spokesperson Kevin Nix told the Blade. “Our base is fired up, momentum is with us, and the critical conversations about ‘why marriage’ are happening with voters of all backgrounds, faiths, and parts of the state.”

The announcement came on the same day that Marylanders for Marriage Equality released a new web advertisement that highlights black supporters of nuptials for gays and lesbians.

A Public Policy Poll survey in May found that 55 percent of the state’s African American residents and 57 percent of Maryland voters support marriage rights for same-sex couples. Efforts to increase support among black Marylanders on the issue received an additional boost when President Obama and the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Board of Directors backed nuptials for gays and lesbians in May.

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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