Supporters of Maryland’s same-sex marriage law said over the weekend they remain optimistic voters on Election Day will support Question 6.
“I want Maryland to make history,” said Silver Spring resident Laurette Cucuzzo as she called voters from Marylanders for Maryland Equality’s office in Silver Spring on Saturday afternoon. “I’m very excited about this. My sister’s gay and I want to support everyone’s right to equality. I think it’s really important.”
Silver Spring resident Deb Ferrenz also spoke to the Washington Blade as she called voters. She has been a Marylanders for Marriage Equality volunteer for several months, but she said the issue is important to her because her lesbian daughter married in Massachusetts.
“We’re saying kind of are you aware that there is getting a change to vote for a law that lets gay and lesbian couples get legally married in our state,” Ferrenz said. “And that we think it’s a matter of fairness and we hope they agree and they are planning to vote for Question 6.”
Maegan Marcano of Northeast Washington traveled to Silver Spring to “support Maryland.” She noted to the Blade as she sat with Cucuzzo and Mai-Kim Norman of D.C. same-sex couples began to legally marry in the nation’s capital in 2010 after D.C. Council passed a bill allowing nuptials for gays and lesbians.
“We were able to do that in the District of Columbia,” said Marcano, noting the passage of the city’s same-sex marriage bill did not happen without debate and even controversy. “It’s a little heart-wrenching that people who are not involved in our lives in the gay and lesbian community have to vote on this issue so that’s why I’m here to really kind of try to get that extra push.”
A Goucher College poll released 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 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 Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in March.
The governor, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Chair Emeritus Julian Bond and other Question 6 supporters maintain the same-sex marriage law protects religious freedom in spite of opponents who continue to claim it does not.
“It is not a protection for churches,” said state Del. Kathy Afzali (R-Frederick County) during an anti-Question 6 rally at Baker Park in Frederick on Nov. 4. She cited Vermont innkeepers who claim a lesbian couple from New York sued them after they refused to host their wedding reception. Afzali also highlighted the suburban Boston man who maintains police arrested him in 2005 because he demanded his son’s teachers not expose him to discussions about homosexuality. “I’m not making this up. You can Google the stories. It’s true. So when they tell you that you’re protected, you are not protected.”
State Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) was among those who also spoke during the Frederick gathering that drew a few dozen people. Pastor Luke Robinson of Quinn Chapel AME Church in Frederick noted Superstorm Sandy struck New York City after Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $250,000 to Marylanders for Marriage Equality.
“We believe marriage is and should remain defined as a union of one man and one woman,” said Peter Sprigg of Family Research Council, during the same event. “The second message is, if I can paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, that government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not parish in the state of Maryland.”
Sprigg noted the Maryland Court of Appeals in 2007 upheld the state’s ban on same-sex marriages based on what the majority concluded was the state’s “legitimate interests in fostering procreation” and “encouraging the traditional family structure in which children are born are reasonably related to defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.” He also said LGBT advocates failed to spur Annapolis lawmakers to pass a same-sex marriage bill until earlier this year.
“Finally in 2012 they succeeded in pushing through this redefinition of our most fundamental social institution but we the people did not surrender,” Sprigg said. “As you heard we got at least three times the signatures needed to put this issue on the ballot. So the House of Delegates has had their say. The Senate has had their say. The governor has had their say, but on Tuesday we the people have our say.”
He further urged Maryland voters to use what he described as “simple common sense” when they go into the voting booth.
“On this issue I feel like people sometimes ignore the obvious: it takes one man and one woman to make a baby,” Sprigg said. “Marriage exists to encourage the man and woman to raise the child produced by their union. It is no disrespect to your friends or neighbors or relatives who may self-identify as gay or lesbian to say that; any more than it’s disrespectful to hard-working single parents or those living with relatives they’re not permitted to marry or those who choose not to marry at all. But the definition of marriage is not about finding the least common denominator. It’s about upholding the highest ideal. Society needs children. Children do best when they have a mom and a dad.”
Pastor Matt Braddock of Christ Congregational Church in Silver Spring disagreed with those who continue to claim Question 6 does not ensure religious freedom. More than 30 people took part in a 24-hour vigil in support of the same-sex marriage law on Nov. 2-3.
“People in this congregation who’ve been doing door-to-door canvassing I think are getting very positive messages from the households they are visiting, but the opposition has been tough,” Braddock told the Blade inside the sanctuary when asked how he feels going into Election Day. “They’ve been miscommunicating the facts and scaring people intentionally. I’ve been praying for 24 hours that people don’t believe lies and really respond generously.”
Like Braddock, gay state Sen. Rich Madaleno said he remains “guardedly optimistic” about Question 6 ahead of Tuesday.
“I feel really good about our chances,” he told the Blade at Marylanders for Marriage Equality’s Silver Spring office on Saturday afternoon. “I feel like we’ve really done almost everything we can do to put ourselves in the position to win. I’m heartened by the fact that poll after poll continues to show us ahead by substantial leads.”