October 3, 2012 at 12:27 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Former NFL commissioner donates $100,000 to Md. marriage campaign
Paul Tagliabue, National Football League, NFL, Washington Blade, gay news, Marylanders for Marriage Equality

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Former National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue on Tuesday announced that he and his wife have donated $100,000 to the campaign to defend Maryland’s same-sex marriage law.

“We had the privilege of raising our family in Maryland. We have the privilege of now living in the District of Columbia. We’ve lived in New York where they passed marriage equality. We spend time in the summer in Maine, where they are fighting it again. I think this is the time to view this not as an expense, but as a capital investment in our nation’s infrastructure,” he said during a Marylanders for Marriage Equality fundraiser that he and his wife Chan attended at gay Democratic lobbyist Steve Elmendorf’s Logan Circle home. The couple, whose son is gay, donated $8,500 to the campaign during a star-studded New York City fundraiser that former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman and others hosted last month. “You pass it in the legislature, the will of the people has been expressed and you get litigation. In New York, they didn’t have to deal with it at the ballot, but now they’re attacking the Republican senators who supported it and one of them has now been defeated. At some point the tide has got to turn. You got to stop the litigation. You got to demonstrate that the litigation is not — the second guessing at the ballot box is not going to overcome the will of the legislature. At some point you’ve got to demonstrate that people who support this are going to be re-elected, and not get punished for supporting marriage equality. And I think right now is the time.”

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray were among those who attended the fundraiser.

Gay activist Peter Rosenstein presented O’Malley with a $10,000 check to Marylanders for Marriage Equality from the Campaign for All D.C. Families. The governor, who signed Maryland’s same-sex marriage bill into law in March, conceded that the campaign to defend it needs to raise $1 million before Election Day. He told a group of LGBT bloggers and reporters during a Sept. 24 conference call that Marylanders for Marriage Equality needed an additional $2 million ahead of the Nov. 6 referendum.

“This is by no means done,” said O’Malley. “And in your presence here tonight, I hope that when you leave here, you leave here committed to help us turn on the after-burners for the next 36 days.”

The fundraiser took place two days after the Baltimore Sun released a poll that shows 49 percent of likely Maryland voters support the state’s same-sex marriage law, compared to 39 percent who oppose it. A Gonzalez Research poll last week notes that 51 percent of Marylanders would back Question 6, compared to 43 percent who would vote against it. The same survey shows that 44 percent of black Marylanders support nuptials for gays and lesbians, compared to 52 percent who oppose them.

“We need to raise more money, that’s obvious, but I’m extremely optimistic that on Nov. 6 Maryland is going to be the next state in the fold of those who are supporting marriage equality in our nation,” said Gray, who referenced D.C.’s same-sex marriage law during his remarks.  “I can tell you know almost three years later in the District of Columbia, the world has not come to an end. Families have not dissolved. Children have not been harmed. There is not one untoward thing that has happened in the District of Columbia, but what has happened is that there are a lot of people who are happier today than they were over three years ago when they could not consummate their relationship in the way they had chosen.”

Steny Hoyer, Democratic Whip, Marylanders for Marriage Equality, gay news, Washington Blade

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.)

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.,) whose daughter came out to the Washington Blade in an exclusive interview in June, shared Gray’s optimism. He also applauded both O’Malley and President Obama for supporting same-sex marriage.

“I was very, very pleased to join with the governor and the president to say look; this is the civil rights issue of our day,” said Hoyer. “It’s not government’s job to tell people who to love. It’s not the government’s job. And we ought to accord the respect to them that we accord to others as well. If the pursuit of happiness is available to everybody, that means everybody. So I’m very pleased to be here with all of you. We’re going to win this issue. We’re going to win this issue mainly through the leadership of Martin O’Malley.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

  • My concern about the 49% support/39% oppose number in the latest poll in the Baltimore Sun is that they asked if respondents felt if marriage should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples, not if they are going to vote for Question 6.

    I understand that recent polls showed that 54% stated they would vote for the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples, when asked that question.

  • Excellent, thanks Former Commissioner!

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