News :: Politics

Gay Marriage Activists Make History in Md.

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Wednesday Nov 7, 2012
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Maryland became part of history when voters passed a measure that made gay marriage legal in the state, the Washington Post reports.

It was a close call but Maryland approved same-sex marriage with 52 percent of voters supporting the measure, commonly known as Question 6. Maryland is one of the first states in the country to have voters approve the marriage equality measure by a popular vote. The other state is Maine.

Same-sex couples in Maryland will be able to get married on Jan. 1, 2013.

LGBT activists rejoiced as they learned that voters approved the legislation. Several supporters waited to find out the fate of the measure in a Baltimore club, including Ruth Siegel and her partner of 15 years, Nina Nethery.

"It’s being part of history," Nethery, 59, told the Post. " I’m in history."

Anthony Valenzuela, 37 said that the bill passing shows that "Maryland is a pathfinder for other states. It means that the people can decide in favor of love."

Also announcing his support was Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who was thrilled to find out Maryland passed the controversial measure, the Associated Press reports.

"I’m so stoked. It’s like I woke up and it’s Christmas," Ayanbadejo said. The athlete has been a longtime supporter for marriage equality and has made media headlines for his endorsement.

"It’s something I’ve been passionate about a long time," he said. "Even though it doesn’t affect me directly, it affects a lot of my friends. It affects my family. It affects Ravens fans. It affects Marylanders. I’ve worked very hard on it; I’m especially proud of the Marylanders who went out and voted and made a difference."

When asked if his teammates agree with him or not, Ayanbadejo said that the "majority of the people got it right" and "who cares what they think in the locker room? Who cares what they think anywhere? The people decided."

In 2008, Maryland legalized domestic partnerships for same-sex couples and in 2009 the state extended benefits to same-sex partners of state employees. A year later the Maryland recognized the marriages of gay couples who were legally wed in other jurisdictions.

In February, the Maryland General Assembly passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act to legalize gay marriage. Gov. Martin O’Malley signed the measure in March and on Tuesday 52 percent of voters approved the bill.

Voters in Washington State joined Maryland and Maine in recognizing marriage equality when it was announced on Wednesday that Referendum 74, a measure that allows same-sex couples to legally marry, was voted into law. Additionally, Minnesota made history, as it became the first state in the country to vote against a constitutional amendment that would have banned gay couples from getting married.

O’Malley, who has been a prominent supporter of gay marriage in Maryland, said the campaign for same-sex marriage was a "noble battle to move Maryland forward."

Organizations that are bent on banning gay marriage across the country refused to recognize reality. "It’s very, very close, but look at the numbers in Maryland that went for Obama, and look at the numbers for us," Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage said. "They barely won. We won by a much larger margin than Mitt Romney or any of the Republicans."

The Post broke down how Marylanders voted on Question 6: "Voters who attend church at least weekly were far more likely to be opposed than those who attend occasionally or never, according to the exit polls," the article reads. "Women were more likely to support the measure than men, and white voters were more likely to support it than African Americans, who split about evenly."

The article also notes, "the campaign over Question 6 in Maryland focused heavily on African American voters, who make up a larger share of the electorate than in any other state outside the Deep South and whom polls showed as more reluctant to accept gay nuptials than white voters."

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