BALTIMORE—Maryland voters on Tuesday approved the state’s same-sex marriage law in a night of historic firsts for LGBT Americans.
With 97 percent of precincts reporting, Question 6 passed by a 52-48 percent margin.
“Fairness and equality under the law won tonight,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, in a statement shortly after his group announced voters had upheld the law. “We’re sure to feel the ripples of this monumental victory across the country for years to come.”
Governor Martin O’Malley, who signed the state’s same-sex marriage law in March, joined lesbian state Dels. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) and Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) and other elected officials on stage at the Baltimore Soundstage.
“Thank you for what you have done in this noble battle to move Maryland forward,” said O’Malley.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake echoed the governor.
“There are very few times when there are no words to describe how grateful I am,” she said hours after she joined O’Malley and Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens at a local polling place. “I am so grateful for Maryland standing up for fairness, for standing up for equality.”
Gay state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) told Question 6 supporters they “are standing here as equal citizens of the United States.” He also had a proposal of sorts for his husband.
“I have one last thing to say,” said Madaleno. “Hopefully somewhere in Kensington, Mark Hodge is watching this broadcast. And honey I say will you marry me again?”
Question 6 opponents maintained the same-sex marriage law did not protect religious freedom in spite of what O’Malley and other supporters repeatedly claimed. Some even resorted to using increasingly homophobic language that included equating gay men to “predators” who want to indoctrinate children and noting Superstorm Sandy struck New York City after Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $250,000 to Marylanders for Marriage Equality during the final days of the campaign.
“I speak for MMA’s coalition of diverse organizations and individuals, when I say that we are encouraged that throughout this campaign, hundreds of thousands of petition signers, volunteers and supporters continued to stand firm in their knowledge that marriage is a unique institution that is the foundation of stable societies,” said Maryland Marriage Alliance Chair Derek McCoy in response to Question 6’s passage. “We respect the results that have come from a democratic process. We look forward to continuing to work with Maryland residents all across the state to promote strong and healthy marriages that will ensure that all children have the best chance of being raised by a dad and a mom.”
“This is a historic night,” state Del. Keiffer Mitchell (D-Baltimore City) told the Washington Blade as the results began to come in. “When I was talking to voters out there, they were comfortable with the religious protections involved and they started to see it more as an equality issue.”
Baltimore resident Monica Jones pointed to two people with whom she works in the city’s school system who cannot currently add their same-sex partners to their health insurance plans. She told the Blade that Question 6 would allow them to do that.
“I feel like why not give it to them,” said Jones, who sang a song in support of the same-sex marriage law while awaiting the results. “They’re family. They’re no different than what we are — no different at all.”
Meanwhile, voters in Maine approved a ballot measure to allow same-sex couples to marry by a 53-47 percent margin with 75 percent of the state’s precincts reporting.
“Tonight, here in Maine, we prove that voters can change their hearts and minds if we tell our stories and give our fellow citizens a personal connection to the countless families whose lives are impacted by this debate,” said Matt McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, in an e-mail to supporters.
Voters in 2009 struck down a same-sex marriage law that then-Gov. John Baldacci signed earlier that year. Mainers United for Marriage collected more than 100,000 signatures to once again bring the issue before voters.
“The victory belongs to the thousands of marriage supporters in Maine and across the country who have worked tirelessly for nearly three years to make it possible for all loving, committed couples in Maine to obtain a marriage license,” said McTighe.
Protect Marriage Maine, the coalition of groups that opposed Question 1, conceded more than an hour after the Associated Press projected the ballot measure passed.