November 6, 2012 | by Michael K. Lavers
Cummings: Country has come a ‘long way’ on same-sex marriage
Elijah Cummings, Martin O'Malley, Question 6, Maryland, election 2012, gay marriage, same sex marriage, marriage equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Congressman Elijah Cummings and Gov. Martin O’Malley outside Northwood Elementary School in Baltimore on Nov. 6. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

BALTIMORE — Congressman Elijah Cummings on Tuesday said he’s optimistic Maryland voters will support the state’s same-sex marriage law, but predicted the margin of victory would be slim.

“I think it’s going to pass,” he told the Washington Blade in an interview outside Northwood Elementary School in Baltimore. Governor Martin O’Malley, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens were also on hand to speak with voters and campaign volunteers. “I think it’s going to be narrow.”

Cummings, who represents parts of the Charm City and Baltimore and Howard Counties, told the Blade last month he was going to vote for Question 6. He was the last member of the Maryland Democratic congressional delegation to publicly back the state’s same-sex marriage law.

The Baltimore congressman had previously said he identified with President Obama’s evolution towards supporting marriage rights for same-sex couples.

“We have come a long way on that issue,” he said. “I’m the son of two Pentecostal ministers. In my home, women putting on make-up was considered a sin. That’s the kind of house I grew up in. And so you can imagine some issues are very, very difficult.”

Cummings  told the Blade that Vice President Joe Biden’s comments on how he would not “subject other people to his feelings” on abortion during the Oct. 11 vice presidential debate against Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan resonated with him as he considered his own stance on nuptials for gays and lesbians.

“I said to myself, how would I feel if somebody told me that I could not marry my wife for a lifetime?” said Cummings. “My position is we have one life to live. This is no dress rehearsal. And this is their life. I’m hoping that we can get past this. I’m hoping that it passes and that people will have an opportunity to live the very best life that they can, period.”

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.

Cummings said he did not receive any negative responses to his endorsement of Question 6. He described some of the reaction he received from gay Marylanders and others as “very emotional.”

“I get emotional just talking about it,” said Cummings. “The gay community has just — everywhere I go, they have expressed tremendous appreciation. And I have heard more stories in the last week or two about people who simply wanted to live out their life in a marriage and how much it meant to them. I cannot tell you the number of e-mails and notes and whatever and the phone calls I’ve gotten from the gay community expressing their appreciation. And that’s the reaction I have gotten.”

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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