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Gay marriage advocates launch petition, meetings

ANNAPOLIS — A week after celebrating the signing of legislation to legalize gay marriage, supporters of same-sex unions are working to fend off an attempt to overturn the law.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition of organizations that back unions for same-sex couples, will host a series of community meetings on their plan to uphold the law should it be petitioned to the November ballot.

Members of the group, who rejoiced as Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the bill last week, have also launched their own petition to gather support for upholding the gay marriage law. People who sign it will be pledging their support for same-sex marriage, although the petition will not carry any legal weight, organization officials said.

It will be used to contrast efforts by referendum advocates who have vowed to turn in at least double the nearly 56,000 valid voter signatures required to put the measure on the ballot.

Fred Mason, president of the Maryland and District of Columbia AFL-CIO, one of the labor groups that supported the marriage law, said the petition will encourage voters to back it.

“We’ve seen this social progression in the country in a variety of ways,” Mason said. “We’ve seen that progression in this country and in the state of Maryland and we certainly believe we will prevail in the referendum.”

If the law survives a referendum, gay couples will be able to marry in Maryland starting in January 2013.

Delegate Neil Parrott, R-Washington, is one of the leaders of the referendum petition drive. He said he is confident the advocates’ efforts to stir public discussion on gay marriage will swing in the favor of the referendum effort. Referendum advocates have yet to begin collecting signatures, but Parrott said they expect to launch the petition drive soon.

“The more people talk about the marriage issue in Maryland, the more people are going to want to maintain the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman,” Parrott said. “I think that’s a healthy discussion and I’m glad that’s going on.”

Last year, Parrott led a successful petition drive on another bill by using a website to download information from state voter rolls, ensuring that signers’ names and addresses matched the information given when they registered to vote, a requirement to validate signatures in Maryland.

4 comments

  1. It is horrendous that this law, extending the rights of traditional marriage to same-sex couples, could now be put up for a vote. That is illegal and unconstitutional. But it is being allowed and we must fight against traditional bigotry all the way. Even if we lose, we will come back again and again until we win or until such referendums are found unconstitutional and are no longer allowed to take place.

  2. Our elected officials are expected to represent the will of the majority of those that elected them. When they succumb to special interest group pressure, the people that elected them should have an opportunity to change their actions.
    I support the extension of rights under the law that are permitted to married couples to those that choose a union other than traditional marriage (one man one woman). While I personally don’t agree with a same sex union on moral and religious grounds, governments (State or Federal) can sanction these unions and provide them with the same legal rights.
    The State has taken the easy way out of resolving this issue and is attempting to legislatively change the definition of a religious relationship. This is not an issue of intolerance (bigotry) this is an issue of equal rights under the law for this particular defined group of people – same sex couples.
    I believe you will get less objection in the legislative effort if the same sex community stops trying to force people to believe that a zebra is a horse.

  3. David Alan Tibbetts

    Larry Esser – you should be be convicted of illegal blathering. The referendum is both legal and constitutional until decided otherwise by the courts. I am against gay marriage. If it passes at referendum I can live with it. It will be the law of the land. Who gave you the right to call us bigots for being opposed to gay marriage? You could equally could be called a bigot agaisnt traditional marriage. Does looking in the mirror and hearing the same words give you pause? It should. Best of luck to my side in the referendum wars. My central point is that the backers of marriage equality are not the posssessors of the moral high ground and should not be allowed to claim it unchallenged.

  4. how can I sign the petition against same sex marriage? I think this whole state is going crazy.