Maryland’s anti-gay marriage foes have delivered twice the number of signatures needed to put the state’s new marriage equality law on the ballot in November, making a referendum almost inevitable.
Activists say they submitted 113,000 signatures on petitions on Tuesday — double the 55,736 needed to put the issue on the ballot. The state has 20 days to verify signatures.
Opponents were required to submit 18,579 signatures by Thursday to petition a law to referendum and had until June 30 to submit the remainder.
Following 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, Maryland legalized marriage equality in March. The law does not come into effect until January of next year.
Maryland for Marriage Equality, a group hoping to see the new marriage equality law prevail at the ballot, said in a statement, “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.”
Maryland for Marriage Equality has warned, however, that the number of petition signatures, even so far in excess of the minimum requirement, should not necessarily be taken to mean that marriage equality is doomed at the ballot. Citing a recent PPP poll that demonstrated some encouraging trends, they said:
“It’s clear those opposed to marriage equality are losing ground. Our PPP poll last week showed 57% would vote to uphold the law – with 37% voting against – if the election were held today.”
In particular, the group cites President Obama’s marriage equality endorsement as offering a resolve that might have been lacking otherwise, saying, “A surge in support among African American voters (to 55%) in the wake of endorsements by President Obama and the NAACP are key factors in that change.”
Marriage equality Maryland also believes advocates can win not just on momentum, but based on the key issues themselves:
“Beyond polling and politics, let’s keep in mind what the likely referendum is all about: building stronger families and protecting every child under Maryland law. Only marriage provides such legal protections to children. Every family deserves dignity, just as every church deserves its freedom and liberty to marry who they want. Religious liberty is cherished and protected.”
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