COLLEGE PARK, Md.—Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley on Monday urged young people to vote for the state’s same-sex marriage law on Election Day.
“Tomorrow we’re going to put the ‘for’ in forward,” he told roughly 200 people who attended a pro-Question 6 rally at the University of Maryland. The governor also spoke at a similar event earlier in the day in Baltimore. “As a country we move forward and not back. I have four kids — and my daughters are no longer kids, they’re your age. They’re 21 and 20. And when it comes to Question 6, they look at some of us older people — that is to say those over 40 — and they say, what is wrong with you guys? What about this thing do you not get? Every person should be treated fairly and equally under the law. That’s what it means to be an American, isn’t it?”
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.,) whose daughter Stefany came out to the Washington Blade in an interview in June, pointed out the first bill for which he voted in the Maryland state Senate was the measure that repealed the state’s ban on interracial marriages. He said marriage rights for gays and lesbians upholds the promises of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
“There is zero doubt in my mind that who you love or others love will not impede on who I love or who I have a relationship with or the values that I hold,” said Hoyer. “This is about the substance of America and every individual is endowed not by their government but by their God with certain unalienable rights.”
Kiese Hanson of the University of Maryland Student Government Association also urged her classmates to vote for Question 6.
“My parents raised me to believe that there should not be boundaries put on love, and I learned that everyone should be treated fairly and equally,” she said. “The best quality of the human race is our ability to love. Why would we restrict those from demonstrating this quality of our existence? Maryland has the opportunity to do something special to be the first state to pass marriage equality at the ballot and guarantee that no one in our state is restricted from loving who they want to love.”
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 Washington Post survey published on Oct. 18 noted 52 percent of Maryland voters support Question 6, compared to 42 percent who said they oppose it.
A third poll the Baltimore Sun conducted between Oct. 20-23 noted only 46 percent of respondents would vote for the law O’Malley signed in March.
Question 6 opponents continue to maintain the same-sex marriage law O’Malley signed in March does not protect religious freedom. Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council and others argue marriage between one man and one woman is necessary to produce children.
“As a pastor, I cannot stand on the side of those who would attempt to justify legalized discrimination under the guise of religious belief,” said Rev. Delman Coates of Mount Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton. “The denial of rights to some based upon religious beliefs sets the precedent for the denial of rights to others based on religious belief. And that is a very dangerous public policy precedent to establish in America. As a Christian and as an American, I believe my charge is to live in my faith, not to legislate it. And I therefore urge Marylanders to vote for Question 6 because it does not force any religious institution or any clergyperson to perform any union that is against their religious beliefs or practices.”
State Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard and Carroll Counties) stressed he feels nuptials for gays and lesbians is increasingly becoming a bi-partisan issue. He is one of two GOP lawmakers who voted for the same-sex marriage bill in Annapolis earlier this year.
“I see it as a very Republican principle,” said Kittleman. “I believe conservative principles mean that gov’t should not be intruding on your personal freedoms.”
Maryland voters on Election Day will also consider three other ballot questions that would allow undocumented immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities, expand gambling and approve redrawn congressional districts.
O’Malley’s office did not return the Washington Blade’s request for comment on a state campaign finance report that indicates the company behind the development of National Harbor in Prince George’s County donated $271,515 to a group opposed to both Question 6 and the Dream Act. The governor continues to maintain expanded gambling in the state would generate more jobs and money for education.
Back at the University of Maryland, gay state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) thanked O’Malley for his efforts in support of Question 6.
“He has worked day and night to make sure not only Question 6, but all of the ballot questions succeed tomorrow in Annapolis,” he said. “I can’t tell you on behalf of my family, my kids, all the gay and lesbian families of our state, your work has been truly amazing. And we will never adequately express our gratitude for you.”
Lesbian state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and Bob Ross, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Prince George’s County Branch were among those who also attended the rally.
“We’re here because it’s time to right a wrong,” said NAACP Washington Bureau Director Hilary Shelton. “It’s time for us to take the issue on head first.”