July 11, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Md. marriage advocates target black voters in new ad

NAACP President Benjamin Jealous (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The campaign that seeks to defend Maryland’s same-sex marriage law on Tuesday released a web advertisement that features black supporters of nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Julian Bond, chairman emeritus of the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, previewed the spot that Marylanders for Marriage Equality released. He said in a statement that the video helps to further humanize the issue of nuptials for gays and lesbians.

“The new video by Marylanders for Marriage Equality shows us what the same-sex marriage debate is really about: our gay and lesbian family members, neighbors, friends, co-workers – and those who support them,” he said. “It’s this human side we cannot forget about as the campaign gets underway.”

Support for marriage rights for same-sex couples among black Americans has increased significantly since the President Obama publicly backed the issue and the NAACP National Board of Directors passed a resolution in support of nuptials for gays and lesbians in May.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted days after Obama endorsed same-sex marriage during an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts indicated that 59 percent of black respondents support nuptials for gays and lesbians—a nearly 20 percent increase from surveys that had been taken before the interview. A second survey from Public Policy Poling found that 55 percent of black Marylanders would vote for their state’s same-sex marriage law in the likely November referendum.

Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville remains one of the most prominent black opponents of the state’s same-sex marriage law; but current NAACP President Benjamin Jealous is among those who continue to speak out in support of nuptials for gays and lesbians.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality continues to partner with the Maryland Black Family Alliance and other groups to build support for the state’s same-sex marriage law. Volunteers collected hundreds of signatures during last month’s Baltimore Black Pride. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was among those who attended a fundraiser in the Charm City in June that raised $20,000 for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

“In the end, I do feel we will win,” the Rev. Meredith Moise, co-chair of Baltimore Black Pride, told the Blade as she discussed what she described as the conversations that LGBT groups of color and their allies have been having with their friends, family members, neighbors and ministers about same-sex marriage and other issues for years. “Honestly if we win the referendum or not, we still will have won because black gays and lesbians are coming out, they’re talking about their lives to their families and friends. And that in and of itself helps us expand our frame of reference. Our community is going to win. Legislatively something will happen, but ultimately we will win.”

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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