Same-sex marriage (SSM) activity in Maryland
2012-FEB to MAY: Referendum process.
Poll. Will county clerks obey the new law?
Sufficient petition signatures collected.
This is a continuation from a previous essay
In this section, "SSM" means "same-sex marriage;"
LGBT" means "lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgendered persons
The referendum process and its likely adverse impacts on the culture:
A minimum of 3% of the state's qualified voters -- only 55,736 valid signatures -- were required to activate the petition. 3 To be certain, they aimed to collect many more that this number as a protection against invalid signatures. One third or more of these signatures had to be collected by 2012-MAY-31, and the rest by JUN-30 in order to have the referendum added to the 2012-NOV ballot. In a state where about 44% of adults oppose SSM, that should be easily accomplished. Carrie Evans, executive director of Equality Maryland -- a pro-marriage equality group -- said that she thinks "it will only take a few rounds of church signings to get it done." 6
Unfortunately, the advertising and debates associated with the referendum will probably have some very unpleasant side effects:
- Harassment of students who are suspected of being gay, lesbian, or bisexual would probably increase significantly. There are some data that shows that most of the students who are harassed because they are perceived as gay are actually heterosexual.
- Loving, committed same-sex couples will have to endure news items, TV programs, speeches, etc. in which their relationships are denigrated.
- A great deal of conflict and ill will are inevitable, particularly among Democrats who are divided on SSM along racial lines.
- The concept that a majority can terminate important civil rights of a minority will be reinforced. This is often referred to as the "tyranny of the majority" and was a major concern among the founders of America. Preventing the majority from oppressing minorities was the main reason for the writing of equal access and equal treatment clauses into the U.S. Constitution.
If the referendum fails on election day in 2012-NOV, then the bill would become effective on 2013-JAN-01. If the referendum succeeds, then loving, committed same-sex couples will not be able to marry starting in 2013. Proponents of SSM will have to start the entire legislative process from scratch.
As of late 2012-JAN, a Washington Post poll showed support for SSM at 50% vs. 44% opposition, for a six percentage point margin. By 2012-NOV, if current trends hold, support should be about 51% and opposition about 43%, for a margin of 8 percentage points. This could be probably be reversed by the infusion of a few millions of dollars worth of active fear-based advertising by groups opposing marriage equality. However, with so many SSM referendums expected for election day in other U.S. states during 2012-NOV, those opposed to SSM might find themselves short on financing.
Whatever the result of the referendum, a new referendum will probably be mounted -- perhaps in 2016 -- to reverse the results of the first referendum. A continuing sequence of referendums could result, ending only when one side receives such an overwhelming majority that further attempts would be seen to be hopeless. That process, along with all of the disruption and animosity it would cause are two undesirable byproducts of a system that requires only a simple 50% vote to terminate fundamental human rights of minorities.
2012-MAR: Hart Research conducts poll of Maryland voters:
Hart Research Associates surveyed voters during 2012-MAR about the law that allows loving, committed same-sex couples to marry. The found that 54% would vote for the law while 40% would vote against it. We were unable to find additional information on the Internet concerning this survey. 11
See this section's menu for a summary of polls taken during 2011 and 2012.
Will county clerks honor the law?
If the law survives the expected referendum, then it will come into effect on 2012-JAN-01. The next hurdle before loving, committed same-sex couples can get married is to find a county clerk who is actually willing to sell them a marriage license. Some clerks who are religious conservatives will find themselves in a bind. On one hand, they have sworn in their oath of office to apply state law fairly and without discrimination. On the other hand, in many cases, their faith group interprets the Bible in such a way that same-sex marriage is considered an abomination and an insult to God. In New York State a few county clerks refused to honor their oaths of office and denied couples their right to purchase a license. According to Ocean City Today's web site:
"Worcester County Clerk of the Court Steve Hales will do what he is asked to do next January, when the Civil Protection Marriage Act takes affect. The act ... confers legal status on same-sex nuptials. ..."
" 'Statutorily, part of the oath of office we take is to uphold the law and to abide by the laws of the state of Maryland and the Maryland constitution,' Hales said. 'We (circuit court clerks) will be performing same sex marriages not just in Worcester County, but the entire state of Maryland unless it is petitioned to referendum and the voters decide against it'."
" 'Ocean City is a very popular destination and because of our county and its popularity as a destination for weddings, I don’t think that will change. Same sex couples would come here to wed. It’s not just a local issue, but it could be an issue for other states and jurisdictions if people wed in Worcester County and then return to their home states and jurisdictions'." 3
2012-MAY-30: Sufficient signatures apparently collected:
Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance -- the main group fighting against marriage for same-sex couples -- delivered more than 113,000 petitions to the office of the Secretary of State, one day before the deadline of MAY-31. This is more than double the 55,737 signatures required to place the referendum on the 2012-NOV ballot.
Government staff had 20 days in which to verify that a sufficient number of signatures of registered voters in Maryland have been collected. As of JUN-07, 70,039 signatures have been validated. 8 This makes certification of the referendum a certainty.
"The reality is there is incredible excitement out there. I don't think there is anything that has hit Maryland like this in years." 9
Later, he said:
"It’s going to take a lot of grass-roots effort to make sure the voter population is well educated on this issue. We understand as well that these ballot initiatives are expensive." 10
He expects that his group will have spent about $200,000 collecting the signatures, and that the total cost of fighting marriage equality will run well into seven figures.
Initial indications are that the marriage equality forces will not challenge the referendum petition. Rather, they are focusing their attention on what they expect to be a multi-million dollar effort leading up to the November referendum. They have opened two campaign offices, hired twelve staff persons, and expect to hire more in the future. Kevin Nix, spokesman for Marylanders for Marriage Equality said:
"I think we’ve got a pretty strong coalition in place, but we’ll take support. Our effort is really in the state to really get folks from the state even more engaged." 10
A number of citizen initiatives are expected to be on the ballot, along with the Dream Act -- a plebiscite to allow some college-aged illegal immigrants, and children of illegal immigrants -- to obtain lower in-state tuition for college.
Discussion of this topic continues in another essay.
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-sex marriage in Maryland is unlikely," The Washington Times, 2012-JUN-18, at: http://www.washingtontimes.com/
- Amanda Terkel, "Maryland Marriage Equality Poll Shows Increased Support From African-American Voters," Huffington Post, 2012-AUG-02, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- Michae K. Lavers, "Mehlman: Md. same-sex marriage law 'enhances freedom'," Washington Blade, 2012-SEP-11, at: https://www.washingtonblade.com/
- "Maryland leans toward historic embrace of same-sex marriage in vote next month," Washington Post, 2012-OCT-, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- "Election results live stream and coverage," The Diamondback University of Maryland student newspaper, 2012-NOV-06, at: http://www.diamondbackonline.com/
- "Marryland Approves Gay Marriage In Historic 'Question 6' Vote," Huffington Post, 2012-NOV-07, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- "Unofficial 2012 Presidential General Election results for All State Questions ," Maryland State Board of Elections, as on 2012-NOV-09, at: http://elections.state.md.us/
- Andy Towle, "Marriage equality wins in Maryland," Towleroad, 2012-NOV-07, at: http://www.towleroad.com/
- "Maryland Approves Gay Marriage In Historic 'Question 6' Vote," Huffington Post, 2012-NOV-07, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2012-FEB-25
Latest update: 2012-NOV-10
Author: B.A. Robinson