A Baltimore congressman who has yet to publicly back nuptials for gays and lesbians told the Washington Blade late on Wednesday he plans to vote for his state’s same-sex marriage law on Nov. 6.
“I respect and support the decision of the Maryland legislature and will vote in support of Question 6,” said U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings.
Cummings spoke to the Blade two days after Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger announced his support of same-sex marriage during a debate against his opponent, state Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R-Baltimore County,) in Cockeysville. Maryland Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Benjamin Cardin and the rest of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation all support the same-sex marriage law.
“Ultimately, I identify with President Obama’s evolution on the topic of same-sex marriage,” said Cummings. “When you come from a religious background where you’ve been taught all your life that marriage is between a man and a woman, and then you find yourself looking at how a society is changing and how many in your own community are seeing the issue in terms of fairness and equality, it makes you re-think your position.”
A Washington Post poll last week found 52 percent of Maryland voters support Question 6, compared to 42 percent who said they oppose it.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said during a Human Rights Campaign fundraiser in D.C. on Wednesday he remains optimistic voters will support Question 6 on Election Day. He spoke hours after the Maryland Marriage Alliance announced it had begun airing radio commercials that feature Dr. Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
She criticizes the Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People for endorsing marriage rights for same-sex couples and Question 6.
“I understand the civil rights struggle. During the civil rights movement, we were working for access to education, to decent housings, jobs and health care,” says Alveda King in the ad. “As a minister, I believe that the NAACP leadership and gay rights activists have formed an unholy alliance by trying to convince you and me that marriage should be redefined. We did not define marriage. And we cannot redefine marriage. Marriage by definition is a holy union between one man and one woman.”
The NAACP did not immediately respond to the Blade’s request for comment on the anti-Question 6.
Meanwhile, a group of Maryland Jewish leaders held a press conference earlier today at a Baltimore synagogue to back the state’s same-sex marriage law. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who donated $250,000 to Marylanders for Marriage Equality earlier this month, is scheduled to attend a separate press conference with O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake on Friday.
Freedom to Marry also on Thursday announced a $100,000 contribution to the pro-Question 6 campaign that paid for a Marylanders for Marriage Equality ad that features two women discussing President Obama’s support of marriage rights for same-sex couples and a second with NAACP Chair Emeritus Julian Bond
“Freedom to Marry’s investment comes at a key moment, and helps us accomplish an important goal,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager of Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “The radio spot we launched today ensures that voters hear President Obama’s heartfelt and compelling explanation of his journey to support marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Marylanders will identify with those same values – fairness, being a good role model for their kids – and will make the decision to vote for Question 6.”
The group announced its contribution on the same day black clergy who support and oppose Maryland’s same-sex marriage law protested the suspension of Gallaudet University’s chief diversity officer, Dr. Angela McCaskill, after she signed the petition that prompted the same-sex marriage referendum. They gathered outside the Northeast D.C. campus.