April 11, 2012 at 3:21 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Maryland gets campaign manager for referendum fight
Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, gay politics dc, same-sex marriage, gay marriage

Marylanders for Marriage Equality were a major force behind the push to pass the bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples; now will see new leadership in Josh Levin who they will soon pick up from the Midwestern campaign world. (Blade photo by Michael Key)

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the statewide coalition leading efforts to defend the state’s same-sex marriage law against an expected voter referendum, announced today that it has hired political strategist Josh Levin as the coalition’s new campaign manager.

Levin, who has served as campaign manager for Democratic congressional candidates in Illinois and Ohio, will replace Sultan Shakir, who headed the successful campaign to pass the same-sex marriage measure in the Maryland General Assembly.

A statement released by the coalition says Shakir will become political director in the campaign to defeat a referendum seeking to kill the Civil Marriage Protection Act before it takes effect. Opponents of the law are currently gathering petition signatures needed to place it on the ballot in the November election.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the historic effort to ensure all families and their children have the same legal protections,” Levin said in a statement. “We have a number of advantages this election year, and the momentum is with us,” he said. “We’re confident of victory.”

According to information released by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, Levin has served as campaign manager for several U.S. congressional candidates, including Tammy Duckworth in Illinois. He has also served as state director for Americans Against Escalation in Iraq in Illinois and regional field director for the 2004 presidential campaign of Howard Dean.

“Josh’s campaign experience will be invaluable,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley in a statement. “I’m confident voters this fall will come down on the side of human dignity.”

Marylanders for Marriage Equality also released on Wednesday results of a poll it commissioned from Hart Research polling firm showing that 51 percent of Maryland voters support upholding the same-sex marriage law, with 43 percent saying they oppose it.

The poll also shows that nearly 70 percent of Obama voters and 30 percent of those saying they would vote for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney support same-sex marriage equality.

The poll was conducted March 18-23 among 604 Maryland voters. Marylanders for Marriage equality did not release the poll’s margin of error.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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