Maryland marriage equality opponents have now turned in nearly three times the number of signatures they need to put the state’s gay marriage law on the ballot come November, but this effort seems to have cost them substantially.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance had already turned in over a hundred thousand signatures in May, but apparently they aren’t taking any chances.
The group has turned in another 39,743 signatures. That’s on top of the 113,000 they have already submitted to the state, although only 109,000 have been certified so far.
The group needed 55,736 signatures to put the controversial measure to a public vote in November. They say the additional signatures are just an exclamation point on their effort.
Due to the low threshold for qualifying a measure for the ballot it was always expected that the law would put before voters in a referendum.
This follows a concerted campaign by a broad coalition of marriage equality advocates from both religious and secular backgrounds, as well as the vocal support of Governor Martin O’Malley, that saw Maryland legalize marriage equality in March.
Interesting, though, is the fact that in the process of their anti-marriage equality campaigning, it appears the Maryland Marriage Alliance has managed to dig itself into a financial hole.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance raised a mere $5,000 in the past month — and owes $88,000 to various vendors. The biggest unpaid bill, $74,000, is to MDPetitions.com, the outfit run by Del. Neil Parrott, a Washington County Republican. The group also owes about $5,000 in legal fees.
Dereck McCoy, the executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, said he expects to clear up the bills shortly. And he cautioned drawing any conclusions about the strength of their fundraising from the numbers on the report. After all, state financial disclosure laws allow advocacy groups to show only the sliver of their fundraising and expendatures specifically for gathering signatures.
Yes, let us never forget that groups like Maryland Marriage Alliance can call upon friends like NOM, and even religious institutions too, to line their coffers in times of battle.
Still, we do know that gay marriage foes’ resources will be stretched thin this year.
Marriage equality laws will face the ballot in Washington, Maine, and of course Maryland. Washington, if current polling is correct, may retain its law, while Maine looks set to overturn its ban on marriage equality to enshrine language that allows marriage for same-sex couples. Still, precedent is not on marriage equality’s side so such polling should not be taken as gospel.
However, it is Minnesota that seems to have drawn the most attention, and likely the most campaign funds, as it prepares to vote on whether to enshrine a statutory ban on gay marriage in the state’s constitution.