Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said on Wednesday he remains optimistic voters will support his state’s same-sex marriage law on Election Day.
“We’re going to win in Maryland,” he said during the Human Rights Campaign’s “Chefs for Equality” fundraiser at the Ritz-Carlton in Foggy Bottom that raised money for pro-Question 6 efforts.
O’Malley, who signed the state’s same-sex marriage law in March, stressed the campaign is $500,000 short of “securing marriage equality in Maryland at the ballot” on Nov. 6. This figure comes nearly two weeks after Marylanders for Marriage Equality reported in its campaign finance report that it had raised nearly $3.3 million.
Josh Levin, the group’s campaign director, told the Washington Blade on Oct. 12 “this is a $5 million-plus campaign and [we] hope to meet that goal as we enter the final stretch.”
“Never before have the people of one state affirmed the dignity of every individual, the importance of protecting under the law equally every child’s home until this upcoming election,” said O’Malley to those who attended the fundraiser that Tim Gunn of “Project Runway” emceed. “Your presence here tonight can be the difference of whether we succeed or whether we fail. We have raised a lot of dollars and now we are running ahead, but we have seen this before.”
HRC President Chad Griffin urged those who attended the fundraiser not to become complacent in the final days leading up to the Nov. 6 referendum.
“I come here from California. I lived through Proposition 8 where we saw our numbers evaporate at the end,” he said. “Because of what the opposition does — they come in late and they come in with their millions and it’s where they use their funds: to pour advertising dollars on television and mail into your mail into your mailbox and calls onto your voice mail. They’re irritating as hell. They’re lies, and they’re scare tactics, but it’s too late for us to counter it. Well this time we’re ready for it, but we can’t slow down. We can’t let up. In these next 13 days, we have got to contribute and raise everything we can. We’ve got to make every phone call we can and we’ve got to knock on every single door we can and not rest until the last vote is counted in Maryland.”
The amount of money raised during the fundraiser that featured food, cocktails and desserts from dozens of local chefs and bartenders was not immediately available. HRC has given more than $1 million in cash and in-kind donations to the pro-Question 6 campaign, including two $150,000 contributions made to Marylanders for Marriage Equality and the NAACP Maryland Marriage PAC on Oct. 15.
A Washington Post poll published on Oct. 18 found 52 percent of Maryland voters support Question 6, compared to 42 percent who said they oppose it.
Chevy Chase resident Susie Gelman and her husband hosted a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser at their home in July that raised $250,000. She said the issue of marriage rights for same-sex couples became personal when her son could not marry his partner in Maryland last summer.
“I realized that I needed to do my part to make sure that no other son or daughter of Maryland could be denied a basic civil right,” said Gelman.
Gunn, who grew up in D.C. and attended the Corcoran College of Art and Design, told the Blade during the fundraiser he feels same-sex couples should have the ability to marry in every state.
“I profoundly believe it should be a Supreme Court issue, but it’s not yet. And hopefully it would be,” he said. “For me there’s something of a metaphor about marriage equality in Maryland being on the ballot with these two polarities of presidential candidates. And we know what we need to do.”
Gunn added he remains somewhat hopeful Question 6 will pass.
“I almost get tearful about this: I’d like to be very optimistic. I just hope people come out and vote,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of — I wouldn’t even call it complacency. There’s a feeling of well so-and-so will do this. So-and-so will vote. You have to show up and shine and do your civic responsibility. It’s part of navigating this world and being a citizen of this nation. It’s so critically important.”