August 8, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Maryland advocacy groups partner on same-sex marriage, Dream Act

Equality Maryland executive director Carrie Evans (Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Three Latino and LGBT advocacy groups have teamed up to garner additional support for Maryland’s same-sex marriage law and in-state college tuition for undocumented immigrants.

CASA de Maryland and the Latino GLBT History Project continue to recruit LGBT Latinos and their families to publicly discuss nuptials for gays and lesbians at local festivals and with Spanish-language media outlets ahead of the November referendum on the issue — the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation will conduct a media training with these groups on Saturday. Equality Maryland also seeks LGBT immigrants to speak with gay and lesbian Marylanders about the state’s Dream Act that will also go before voters in the fall.

“We have a lot of gays and lesbians in our community,” Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland, told the Blade as he spoke in support of nuptials for gays and lesbians. “We believe and it’s very clear that this is an essential civil rights issue and that’s why CASA is 100 percent behind [same-sex marriage.]”

An Arcus Foundation-funded survey that the National Council of La Raza and Social Science Research Solutions released in April shows that 54 percent of Latinos support marriage rights for same-sex couples. Both the NCLR Board of Directors and the League of United Latin American Citizens National Membership have passed resolutions in support of nuptials for gays lesbians, while Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund President Thomas A. Saenz has also publicly backed the issue.

A Gonzalez Research and Marketing poll in January found that 48 percent of Marylanders support the state’s Dream Act, compared to 49 percent of voters who oppose in-state college tuition for undocumented immigrants. A Hart Research Associates survey last month shows that 54 percent of Marylanders would vote for the same-sex marriage law in November.

Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland, stressed that the young LGBT undocumented immigrants with whom her organization will work in the coming months will become “the voice we use for this issue” that will showcase what she described as the need to include them in the broader LGBT rights movement.

“We really wanted as LGBT Latinos and of Latinos being a growing part of the population to see what we could do to support these efforts, to help both the Latino community and the LGBT community,” added David Pérez, president of the Latino GLBT History Project.

The groups are scheduled to formally announce this initiative at an Aug. 28 press conference.

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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