Same-sex marriage (SSM) activity in Maryland
2012-MAR-01 to now: Future. Referendum.
Maryland Marriage Alliance organizes.
This is a continuation from a previous essay
In this section, "SSM" means "same-sex marriage;"
LGBT" means "lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered persons
2012-MAR-01: What does the future hold?
If SSM opponents do nothing, then the Civil Marriage Protection Act of 2012-MAR-01 law would take effect in 2013-JAN allowing loving, committed same-sex couples could obtain their marriage licenses and marry.
There is no chance of that happening without a fight. Maryland is one of the many states that allows voters to repeal laws passed by the Maryland Legislature, even if the repeal would terminate fundamental human rights of groups of its citizens. All that is needed is to organize a plebiscite. Only 50% of voters on election day in 2012-NOV (plus one voter) would be required to pass a plebiscite, repeal the SSM law, and prevent same-sex couples from marrying.
Organizing a referendum for election day, 2012-NOV:
On 2012-FEB-29, one day before the Governor signed the bill into law, opponents of marriage equality launched a petition drive to authorize a referendum to allow the voters to repeal the law. A group of Republicans set up a web site to collect signatures on a petition to authorize the referendum. They were joined by a some black Democrats from Baltimore, and the Maryland Marriage Alliance -- a group composed of the National Organization for Marriage and of conservative Christian organizations within the state. 1,2
According to the Alliance's home page:
"The Maryland Marriage Alliance is a grassroots, non-partisan, interfaith coalition dedicated to preserving the traditional definition of marriage in Maryland law. The Maryland Marriage Alliance is supported by the Maryland Family Alliance, the Maryland Catholic Conference, and the National Organization for Marriage, and is the leading entity in Maryland focused solely to the preservation of marriage. Along with our three sponsoring organization, we are made up hundreds of local community leaders, pastors, family organizations, and concerned citizens who know that preserving traditional marriage helps keep Maryland strong." 2
By the phrase "preserving the traditional definition of marriage" they mean that their goal is to continue to exclude loving, committed same-sex couples, and their children, from the protections and benefits of marriage. They want marriage to remain a special privilege reserved only for heterosexual opposite-sex couples.
On their "Get Your Petition" page they state:
"Against the will of the overwhelming majority of the people of Maryland, the Legislature has voted to legalize same sex marriage. But the people of Maryland will have the final say on marriage as we have the right to referendum. Maryland Marriage Alliance has already filed to be the Official Referendum Proponents to allow the people to vote and restore marriage in Maryland. We will have petitions in just a few days. Please sign up here and we will contact you as soon as your petition is ready." 2
Their statement about an "overwhelming majority" appears to be in error. National polls and those taken in the state over the past two years have shown a growing percentage of adults supporting same-sex marriage. We have written to the Alliance to find out their information source(s). The text of our e-mail reads:
"On the 'Get your petition' page of your web site, you state: 'Against the will of the overwhelming majority of the people of Maryland, the Legislature has voted to legalize same sex marriage.'
The term 'overwhelming majority' would seem to indicate perhaps 70% opposition. Yet the Gonzales poll in 2011-SEP indicated a 48% vs 49% split. That poll seems to be deeply flawed in accuracy. See: www.religioustolerance.org/hommarrmd13.htm
The Washington Post poll of 2012-JAN appears to be a more accurate poll. It reported 50% support and 44% opposition for a six percentage point margin in favor of marriage equality. See: www.religioustolerance.org/hommarrmd15.htm
Can you refer us to your information sources that indicate 'overwhelming' opposition to same-sex marriage?
Our website receives over a million visitors a month, contains over 6,000 essays and attempts to describe all points of view fairly. If there is overwhelming opposition to same-sex marriage in the state, we would like to report it accurately."
We didn't expect either an acknowledgment or response to our e-mail. We were not surprised. Neither arrived.
According to Delegate Michael McDermott (R), the petition drive is being headed by Delegate Neil Parrott (R). McDermott wrote:
"I spoke with Delegate Parrott on Friday and he advised me that the petition language has been submitted to the Maryland State Board of Elections for their review. ... Once the language of the petition has been approved, it will be put before the public for their active participation." 3
Delegate Parrott (R) said: "The petitions are going to be in mosques, they're going to be in synagogues, in churches."
They expected approval of the petition wording early in 2012-MAR. 7
Derek McCoy is director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance. He said in late 2012-FEB that his coalition had started to train outreach teams and could be in churches training pastors on the issue as early as MAR-04. Unlike other organizations fighting against equal rights for the LGBT community, the Alliance is attempting to obtain support for non-Christians and even the "NOTAs" (None Of The Above) -- persons who are not affiliated with any religion.
Bishop Harry Jackson is the senior minister at the Hope Christian Church in College Park, MD. He is also the presiding bishop of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches which links 1,200 conservative Protestant churches across the U.S. He has been one of the most active opponents to SSM -- earlier in the District of Columbia and more recently in Maryland. He is now leading the fundraising efforts for the Maryland Marriage Alliance. Just as the LGBT community and its supporters believe that religious conservatives are trying to impose their one-man, one-woman concept of marriage on the rest of society, Jackson feels that the LGBT community and its supporters are trying to impose their agenda of marriage equality. He said during an interview with the Christian Post:
"... we as people of faith are not trying to impose our views on others. We are simply using God's Word, given to us by the scriptures, to stand up for what is right. Instead, those who are advocating for what they call 'marriage' that does not involve a man and a woman, are trying to impose their agenda on us."
"The reality is, if you change the definition of marriage, you change the definition of the family, then you change what is taught in schools -- that it's okay for Heather to have two mommies -– and exploring your "sexual awareness" as a young child is acceptable; and it's not. ... To say that it's okay for Heather to have two mommies is not biblical." 4
Jackson seems to be referring to a passage in Romans 1, which is the only place in the Bible where lesbian behavior is mentioned. It appears to condemn a group of heterosexual former-Christians who had reverted to Pagan behavior, engaged in a ritual sexual orgy in a Pagan temple, and violated their heterosexual orientation by engaging in same-gender sexual behavior. The Bible seems to be silent about women whose sexual orientation is homosexual, as in Heather's mommies.
The Intelligence Report of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an organization that monitors hate groups in the U.S., reported that Sylvia Rhue, director of religious affairs for the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), a black gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered rights group., said that:
"... of all the anti-gay black pastors in the country, she finds Jackson one of the more pleasant she has had to deal with. He just happens to be wrong on gay rights, she said."
"I think it's disturbing when black people join the contemporary Confederate army," Rhue told the Intelligence Report. "I don't see [anti-gay religious leaders] as any different than the army who wanted a civil war to maintain slavery. They were passionate and thought that God was on their side. But they were very wrong." 5
Rev. Jackson regards the term "same-sex marriage" to be an oxymoron, as intrinsically contradictory. He apparently believes that when a loving committed same-sex couple marry and raise a family, that they will try to convert their children to have a homosexual orientation. This is an impossibility according to all of the main national psychological and psychiatric professional associations, and has been disproven by studies that show that the same percentage of children become gay or lesbian in families led by same-sex and opposite-sex couples. He is also concerned that teaching children in school about sexual orientation and gender identity will cause more of them to choose to become lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or transsexual. This is unlikely because studies have shown that child psychologists can interview children before they attend school and determine with over 80% accuracy which ones will discover that they have a homosexual orientation after puberty. Still, Jackson's opinions flow naturally from the foundational beliefs of many social and religious conservatives that homosexuality is determined by environmental factors after birth and not genetic and environmental factors before birth.
Opposed to the referendum is a coalition -- Marylanders for Marriage Equality -- which includes the Human Rights Campaign, the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP, the Service Employees International Union, Equality Maryland and other groups.
Discussion of this topic continues...
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Aaron C. Davis, "Md. becomes eighth state to legalize gay marriage," Washington Post, 2012-MAR-01, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- "Maryland Marriage Alliance," Home page, at: http://www.marylandmarriagealliance.com/
- Stewart Dobson & Nancy Powell, "If gay union bill survives, Hales will do court’s work," Ocean City Today, 2012-MAR-02, at: http://www.oceancitytoday.net/
- Paul Stanley. "Evangelical Pastor: Gay Marriage Activists Imposing Agenda on Us," The Christian Post, 2012-FEB-28, at: http://www.christianpost.com/
- Bretin Mock, "Bishop Harry Jackson," Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center, 2007-Spring, at: http://www.splcenter.org/
- Michael Dresser, "Gay marriage law likely will be up to voters. After Senate approval, both sides in same-sex marriage debate gear up for referendum," The Baltimore Sun, 2012-FEB-23, at: http://articles.baltimoresun.com/
- Alice Popovici, "Maryland legalizes same-sex marriage; challenge looms," Reuters, 2012-MAR-01, at: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/
- John Wagner, "Same-sex marriage headed to ballot in Md.," Washington Post, 2012-JUN-07, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- Family Research Council email, 2012-MAY-30.
- David Hill, "Challenge to vote on same-sesx marriage in Maryland is unlikely," The Washington Times, 2012-JUN-18, at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/
Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2012-FEB-25
Latest update: 2012-JUN-20
Author: B.A. Robinson