November 1, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
O’Malley: Md. marriage campaign ‘is in good shape’
Martin O'Malley, gay news, gay politics dc

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley stressed the campaign defending his state’s same-sex marriage law is “in good shape.” (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley told journalists during an Oct. 31 conference call that the campaign defending his state’s same-sex marriage law needs to raise roughly $400,000 to ensure Question 6 passes on Election Day.

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“We’re now about $400,000 away from having on hand what we need to have, so this last push is critically important,” he said. “We continue to raise dollars, and the interest in this question continues — more and more people are becoming interested in this, so I appreciate your coverage on it. And hopefully with your coverage of what you’re doing and what the campaign we’ll be able to get the word out and rally people to this cause.”

Marylanders for Marriage Equality’s Oct. 12 campaign finance report noted it had raised slightly under $3.3 million. O’Malley said the pro-Question 6 group has raised another $1.5 million since he spoke with LGBT bloggers and journalists during a Sept. 24 conference call. This figure includes the $1,205,392.87 that Marylanders for Marriage Equality raised between Oct. 8-21, according to its latest campaign finance report it filed with state election officials on Oct. 26.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance, which opposes Question 6, raised only $846,865.23 during the same period.

“We have one week to go,” said O’Malley. “The campaign is in good shape.”

The governor noted both the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun have endorsed Question 6. He further referenced Baltimore Congressman Elijah Cummings who told the Washington Blade last week he plans to vote for Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

O’Malley also pointed out Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, gay former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and President Obama as among Question 6’s most prominent local and national supporters.

“All of that said, we still have a lot of work to do,” said the governor.

A Goucher College poll released on Oct. 29 found 55 percent of Marylanders support marriage rights for same-sex couples in the state, compared to 39 percent who oppose them. A Baltimore Sun survey conducted between Oct. 20-23 found only 46 percent of respondents would vote for the law. A Washington Post poll published on Oct. 18 noted 52 percent of Maryland voters support Question 6, compared to 42 percent who said they oppose it.

“We always expected this race to tighten up,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, during the call. “What we’ve always said is that we expect this to be a very close race, which is why we’re asking so much of our volunteers and our supporters both in terms of the fundraising and the volunteering on the ground.”

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Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Maryland Marriage Alliance continue to air television and radio ads for and against Question 6 in the Baltimore and D.C. media markets. Marylanders for Marriage Equality’s latest campaign finance report indicates the group spent $2,044,748 on media between Oct. 8-21, compared to slightly more than $1 million of air time the Maryland Marriage Alliance bought during the same period.

O’Malley predicted the National Organization for Marriage will come into Maryland with what he described as a “last minute infusion” of money in the campaign’s final days. The governor said the bulk of these funds will go towards anti-Question 6 television ads.

“They’re the same ads you’ve seen in other states [with same-sex marriage campaigns;] ads even some of those that ran the ads admitted were false,” said O’Malley.

O’Malley also responded to the Blade’s question about Rev. Robert Anderson of Colonial Baptist Church in Randallstown who suggested during an Oct. 19 town hall meeting at a Baltimore church that those who don’t vote against Question 6 “are approving these things that are worthy of death.” Reverend Phillip Goudeaux of Calvary Christian Center in Sacramento, Calif., described gay men as “predators” who seek to indoctrinate children during an anti-Question 6 gathering at another Baltimore church on Oct. 21 that Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, Maryland Marriage Alliance Chair Derek McCoy and roughly 100 others attended.

“That sort of rhetoric is going to be rejected by the people of our state,” said O’Malley. “We are a very diverse state, ethnically and also religiously. And we’re a people who understand that we’re all in this together. And that sort of rhetoric of fear and division and vilifying people that are not like us for whatever reason is not the sort of thing that builds consensus in Maryland.”

Levin reaffirmed his belief the campaign has had what he described as “a pretty good week or two here” despite Superstorm Sandy that forced Marylanders for Marriage Equality to cancel volunteer activities on Oct. 29.

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Campaign supporters spoke with friends and family about Question 6 during the storm after they made sure they were safe. Levin also noted the campaign saw “a lot of support” for Question 6 over the weekend at early vote locations across the state before Sandy forced officials to postpone early voting for two days.

“At this point it is sort of all hands on deck raising those last few dollars as you said and getting as many volunteers together as we can for Election Day to help us have a presence at the polls, to help us get out our voters and help us spread the word about Question 6 coming down to the very end,” he said. “The good news is that we continue to see what I think is momentum.”

O’Malley agreed.

“The bottom line is this; we’re doing well,” he said. “We need to continue to work hard. We have a real shot at prevailing here. Our message is getting through thanks to the good work and help of a lot of people. This is about fairness. This is about equality. This is about respecting the human dignity of every individual and making sure that our laws protect religious freedom while also protecting every individual equally under the law-in other words that no family’s home should receive lesser protections under the law than another family’s home.”

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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