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Md. marriage referendum supporters submit 113,000 signatures

Maryland Marriage Alliance delivers 113,000 signatures to Secretary of State

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Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Same-sex marriage opponents claimed on Tuesday that they have collected enough signatures to place the issue before Maryland voters in November.

Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, said during a Tuesday afternoon press conference outside the Maryland Secretary of State’s office in Annapolis that his organization submitted 113,000 signatures. They have yet to be certified, but the group submitted more than double the 55,736 signatures necessary to place the referendum on the ballot.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance hopes to collect 150,000 signatures by the June 30 deadline.

The group did not immediately return the Blade’s request for comment, but a Public Policy Polling survey last week found that 57 percent of Marylanders would vote for the same-sex marriage law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in March. The same PPP poll found that 55 percent of the state’s black voters back marriage rights for same-sex couples.

The Baltimore-based National Association for the Advancement of Colored People announced its support of nuptials for gays and lesbians during their National Board of Director’s quarterly meeting in Miami on May 19.

“Given the low bar for petitioning a law to the ballot in Maryland, we’ve always expected same-sex marriage opponents to meet that threshold and then some—up to their stated target of 150,000,” said Josh Levin, campaign director for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “But don’t confuse meeting the legal requirement with intensity or measure of support. It’s clear those opposed to marriage equality are losing ground.”

Maryland Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) echoed Levin.

“We’ve always been planning to fight a referendum fight,” she told the Blade as she discussed the likely referendum. “We know when this comes to referendum we’re going to win. Public opinion is continuing to evolve rapidly and support is on our side.”

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Tim

    May 29, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    I know it looks like the [EXPLETIVE REMOVED] anti-gay forces will get the ballot measure on the ballot for this election, but I still hold out some hope it won’t get that far and they will fail to get the signatures they need. If they do get it on the ballot, I am encouraged by the poll results that we can keep mariage equality with a public vote.

  2. Tim

    May 30, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Well the [EXPLETIVE REMOVED] anti-gay bigts appear to have the signatures to put our civil rights up for a public vote; now lets make sure these rotten [EXPLETIVE REMOVED] rue the day they did it by beating them on Election Day and retaining marriage equality in Maryland.

  3. Skeeter Sanders

    June 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Can someone please explain to me why no one has launched a pre-emptive legal strike against Bishop Harry Jackson and other religious opponents of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples by suing them under the federal RICO Act for conspiracy to deprive gay and lesbian Americans of their constitutuiona right to equal protection of the laws under the 14th Amendment?

    Can someone explain to me why they are not being sued for conspiring to violate the constitutioal separation of church and stateby imposing their homophobic religious doctrine into the laws of the state?

    WHY ARE THESE HOMOPHOBIC THEOCRATS BEING ALLOWED TO GET AWAY WITH THIS?

  4. Steven Cink

    August 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    Seems to me that all of the hating that is going around is caused by gay people, who are the true haters in this debate.

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Anti-LGBTQ group claims Va. marriage amendment repeal will legalize polygamy

State Sen. Adam Ebbin rejected claim during committee hearing

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census, gay news, Washington Blade
(Bigstock photo)

A representative of an anti-LGBTQ group on Tuesday said the repeal of Virginia’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman would pave the way for the legalization of polygamy in the state.

“There are some, at least, very legitimate concerns about whether this would actually legalize polygamy, among other forms of marriage,” said Family Foundation of Virginia Legal Counsel Josh Hetzler.

Hetzler made the comment during a Virginia Senate Privileges and Elections Committee hearing on state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria)’s resolution to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. Ebbin, who is the only openly gay member of the Virginia Senate, in response to the claim noted polygamy is a crime under Virginia and federal law.

“I take offense to the Family Foundation’s characterization that this would allow polygamy,” said Ebbin. “This has nothing to do with polygamy, what this has to do with is equality.”

Carol Schall, who, along with her wife, Mary Townley, joined a federal lawsuit that paved the way for marriage equality in Virginia, and outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck are among those who testified in support of the resolution. The committee approved it by a 10-5 vote margin.

Virginia voters approved the Marshall-Newman Amendment in 2006.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Virginia since 2014.

The General Assembly last year approved a resolution that seeks to repeal the Marshall-Newman Amendment. It must pass in two successive legislatures before it can go to the ballot.

Ebbin earlier this month told the Washington Blade he remains “hopeful” the resolution will pass in the Democratic-controlled state Senate. Prospects that the resolution will pass in the Republican-controlled state House of Delegates are far less certain.

Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin before his election reiterated his opposition to marriage equality. Youngkin, however, stressed it is “legally acceptable” in Virginia and he would “support that” as governor.

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Loudoun County removes LGBTQ book from school libraries

Superintendent overrules committee that called for retaining ‘Gender Queer: A Memoir’

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A Loudoun County, Va., School Board committee on Jan. 13 voted to uphold a decision by Loudoun County Public Schools Superintendent Scott A. Ziegler to remove from the school system’s high school libraries a controversial LGBTQ-themed book called “Gender Queer: A Memoir.”

The book is an illustrated autobiography by non-binary author Maia Kobabe that contains descriptions and comic book style drawings of sexual acts that e uses to tell the story of eir journey and struggle in discovering eir gender identity.

Although the book has received an American Library Association award for its relevance to young adults, critics in school systems throughout the country have said its sexually explicit content is not suitable for school libraries.  

The action by the School Board committee came after Ziegler asked a separate school system committee to review the book to determine if its content was appropriate for school libraries. Loudoun Public Schools spokesperson Wayde Byard told the Washington Post the committee, in a split vote, recommended that the book be retained in high school libraries.

According to Byard, Ziegler overruled the committee’s recommendation and ordered that the book be removed from the libraries. Byard said that decision was then appealed to a School Board appeals committee, which voted 3-0 to uphold Ziegler’s decision.

The decision by Ziegler to remove the book from school libraries took place about two months after Fairfax County, Va., Public Schools officials decided to return “Gender Queer” and another LGBTQ-themed book called “Lawn Boy” to their high school libraries after temporarily pulling the two books in response to complaints by some parents and conservative activists.

Two committees appointed by Fairfax school officials to review the two books that consisted of educators, school officials, parents, and students concluded that, while the books contained sexually explicit content, it did not cross the line as pornography or depictions of pedophilia as some opponents claimed.

“The decision reaffirms Fairfax County Public Schools’ ongoing commitment to provide diverse reading materials that reflect our student population, allowing every child an opportunity to see themselves reflected in literary characters,” a statement released by Fairfax school officials explaining their decision to retain the two books in their libraries said.

“Both reviews concluded that the books were valuable in their potential to reach marginalized youth who may struggle to find relatable literary characters that reflect their personal journey,” the statement says.

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Va. bill would restrict transgender students access to school bathrooms

State Del. John Avioli (R-Stanton) introduced House Bill 1126

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The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia lawmaker has introduced a bill that would restrict the ability of transgender students and school board employees to use bathrooms and other facilities in public schools that are consistent with their gender identity.

House Bill 1126, which state Del. John Avoli (R-Stanton) introduced, would require “each school board to adopt policies to require each student and school board employee to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and other changing facilities in public school buildings that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; lodging accommodations during school-sponsored trips that are shared only by members of the same biological sex; and a single-user restroom, locker room, or other changing facility in a public school building, upon request, if the school can reasonably accommodate such a request.”

Avoli introduced HB 1126 on Jan. 12 on the same day the Virginia General Assembly’s 2022 legislative session began with Republicans in control of the House of Delegates. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin took office on Jan. 15.

State Sen. Travis Hackworth (R-Tazewell County) last month introduced Senate Bill 20, which would eliminate the requirement that school districts must implement the Department of Education’s trans and non-binary student guidelines. State Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), who in 2018 became the first openly trans person seated in any state legislature in the U.S., told the Washington Blade last week that she expects SB 20 “would be dead on arrival” in committee.

Equality Virginia, a statewide LGBTQ rights group, on its website notes HB 1126 is among the bills that it opposes.

Democrats still have a 21-19 majority in the state Senate, and they have signaled they will oppose any effort to curtail LGBTQ rights in Virginia. Outgoing Equality Virginia Executive Director Vee Lamneck last week said their organization “will work with the Senate’s pro-equality majority to act as a crucial back stop against harmful legislation and efforts to roll back our hard-earned wins passed during the last two years.”

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