Maryland to legalize marriage equality

WiG

Maryland is set to become the eighth state to legalize marriage equality.

Democratic Gov. Martin O’Mally has promised to sign into law a measure allowing same-sex marriage that was approved this evening by the state’s Senate on a vote of 25 to 22. The Maryland House of Delegates approved the bill law last week.

O’Malley, who has a gay brother, has been promoting the bill in Annapolis for at least a year.

Equality supporters had to overcome fierce opposition from African American lawmakers as well as the Roman Catholic Church. Ministers of several African American churches have joined with Catholic groups in vowing to launch a repeal of the measure.

David Mixner, a gay rights activist and blogger who supports President Obama, said the Maryland bill “lands the issue squarely on the president’s desk” because of the state’s proximity to Washington and its sizable black electorate.

Maryland has the highest percentage of black voters of any state outside of the Deep South. Its percentage of black voters is nearly twice that of any other state that has passed same-sex marriage, the Washington Post reported.

Mixner said Obama’s opposition to same-sex marriage was cited by anti-gay African Americans during the campaign to enact Proposition 8 in California, as well as by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when he recently vetoed a marriage law passed by lawmakers in his state.

“It is essential that he makes clear to the voters of Maryland, without any caveats, that if he were a resident of the state, he would vote against repeal,” Mixner said. “We can’t afford to have his statement be ambiguous so the other side can claim that he’s on their side.”

Washington recently became the seventh state to approve same-sex marriage. Anti-gay religious activists in that state have also vowed to overturn the law via voter referendum.