Howard County Executive Ken Ulman and gay Howard County Register of Wills Byron Macfarlane on Friday will co-host a fundraiser for the group defending Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.
County Council members Calvin Ball and Courtney Watson and state Del. Guy Guzzone (D-Howard County) are among those expected to attend the Marylanders for Marriage Equality event at Ulman’s parents’ Ellicott City home. Tickets range from $75 to $2,000.
“This is an important issue to me,” Ulman, who backed marriage rights for same-sex couples before voters elected him county executive in 2006, told the Blade. He further stressed that he feels that the fact the fundraiser will take place at his parents’ home sends what he describes as a powerful message about his family’s commitment to the issue. “This is something I feel very strongly about.”
The fundraiser is taking place three days after state election officials officially certified a petition that will place the same-sex marriage law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed earlier this year on the November ballot.
A Public Policy Polling survey in May showed that 57 percent of Maryland voters would support the same-sex marriage law in the referendum. The same survey found that 55 percent of black Marylanders back nuptials for gays and lesbians—Marylanders for Marriage Equality on July 10 released a web advertisement that highlights African Americans who support marriage rights for same-sex couples .
“It is important for us to step up and play a role,” Macfarlane told the Blade. “I want to make sure that Howard County just doesn’t deliver just 51 or even 55 percent of the vote for marriage equality, but that we get at least 60 or 65 percent.”
O’Malley, House Speaker Michael Busch (D-Anne Arundel County) and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake are among the state and local officials who have either hosted or attended fundraisers for Marylanders for Marriage Equality in recent weeks. Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin attended a campaign event at a Baltimore restaurant last month.
The campaign to defend Maryland’s same-sex marriage received a boost in May with President Obama’s announcement that he supports nuptials for gays and lesbians – he urged Marylanders to vote for the law during a Baltimore re-election campaign fundraiser last month. The Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Board of Directors passed a same-sex marriage resolution less than three weeks after Obama publicly endorsed the issue.
“We have an all hands on deck approach, whether its raising money or getting people to volunteer,” said Macfarlane when asked about the status of the campaign to defend the same-sex marriage law. “This is a fight we’ve been fighting in Maryland for a long time. We want to win once and for all.”
Ulman conceded he feels “there’s a lot of work to be done” between now and November to ensure same-sex couples will be able to marry in Maryland. He remains optimistic, however, that voters will support the law in the referendum.
“Marylanders have a strong commitment to fairness and equality,” said Ulman. “I feel strongly it will pass. The numbers are trending in the right direction.”