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Maryland Legalizes Gay Marriage
The state of Maryland has legalized gay marriage but not without the threat of voters turning it down at the polls come this fall season. The bill was signed into law on Thursday by Governor Martin O’Malley but it does not go into effect until January of 2013.
Last year, a bill for gay marriage fell short of passing in the legislature, and black pastors in the state were awarded with credit for the failure of the bill. Once leaders understood that the votes needed for the passage of the bill were not going to be met, the House killed the bill.
There will need to be 56,000 valid signatures of opponents, which would be three percent of the people who filed ballots in the 2010 gubernatorial election, so that the issue can be listed on the ballot in November for a public vote.
There are six other states in the country and the District of Columbia that permit gay marriage. Washington recently legalized gay marriage but it does not take effect until June. Voters in the state are hoping to have the measure placed on the ballot in the fall. In 2009, same-sex unions were legalized by the government in Maine, but then the state overturned that law later in the year. There are also 30 states that have amendments in their constitutions that try to prohibit gay marriage, with some of them going as far as to define marriage as being a union between a woman and a man.
At the University of Maryland, Donald Norris works as the chair of the department of public policy. Norris claims that black churches in the state could help the referendum reach the ballot.
“It’s going to really depend upon a variety of things that are going to happen between now and November,” Norris said.
Sultan Shakir, a campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, said the following:
“I think Obama’s election turns out a number of different people. (There is) a lot of attention around people who attend church, but there are plenty of other demographics who are going to be turned out.”
Lisa Polyak, the chair of the board of directros for Equality Maryland, said:
“It’s sad to me that anyone would think that it’s OK to put up the rights of a minority to a popular vote. We have children, we have lives, we have jobs and we just want to go about them with integrity.”
Maryland Legalizes Gay Marriage by Jim Vassallo