By KEVIN NIX
The race for marriage equality in Maryland is on and it’s going to be close. So close, in fact, that we could face a recount.
Next Tuesday, Marylanders will be heading to the polls to vote for president. They will also be deciding Question 6, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which provides civil marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Religious freedom is protected.
Some recent polls have Question 6 passing. Other polls have the race a dead heat. Ignore the polls. The only thing I will ever agree with our opponents on is this: When it comes to Question 6, the only poll that matters is the one taken on Election Day.
We know from past ballot initiatives on marriage that as the opposition engages in the final weeks and days of a campaign, they gain a lot of ground. Their advertising, no matter how full of gross misinformation and scare tactics, chips away at any lead we may have.
That’s happening in Maryland. Only a high turnout of Question 6 supporters can get us securely over the finish line.
We can sit here all day long and expose their binder full of lies. But that’s not enough. Elections aren’t won on facts and fact checks. They’re won, at this stage of the game, on mobilizing every friend, family member and co-worker to vote on Tuesday.
Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has demonstrated model leadership on marriage equality, and the equally impressive LGBT Caucus, did something that’s never been done: they got the bill through the legislature. That’s no easy task — it never is. And passage would not have happened without Republican votes.
Since March, we’ve seen the NAACP and President Obama endorse Question 6, not to mention countless other leaders in the state and more than 200 coalition partners. Now, voters need to finish the job.
Consider that Maryland could be the first state in the nation – ever – to approve marriage equality by a vote of the people. That’s huge. Such a victory would forever change the debate, and take away NOM’s talking point about never winning marriage at the ballot.
Julian Bond, chair emeritus of the NAACP, has been tireless in his advocacy for Question 6 on behalf of Marylanders for Marriage Equality. But he sees the significance, writing in the Afro, “Of four states with marriage equality on the ballot this fall, no win would be as sweet as Maryland’s. It would be the first state below the Mason-Dixon line where marriage for committed gay and lesbian couples is legal. No more fingers can be pointed at African Americans for standing in the way of equality (as they wrongly were, after Proposition 8’s win in California).”
Every Marylander young and old who supports marriage equality must get to the polls. We don’t want to wake up to headlines on Nov. 7 blaring “Same-Sex Marriage Falls Short by 100 Votes” or “Same-Sex Marriage Opponents Squeak By.”
Don’t let them squeak by. This fight is too important to be “too busy” to vote or to think it won’t make a difference.
The term “game changer” is overused in politics. But it’s actually the best way to describe the impact a victory in the Free State would have in the years to come.
Vote. Volunteer. Draw the line in Maryland.
Kevin Nix is director of communications for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.