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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 15, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 24
Obama tells Marylanders: Vote for marriage equality
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Obama tells Marylanders: Vote for marriage equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

To sustained applause, President Obama told 600 supporters at a Baltimore rally that Maryland voters should vote to keep the state's new marriage equality law.

'We're moving forward to a country where we treat everybody fairly and everybody equally, with dignity and respect,' the president said on June 12.

'And here in Maryland, thanks to the leadership of committed citizens and Governor O'Malley, you have a chance to reaffirm that principle in the voting booth in November. It's the right thing to do.'

Although the president chose his words carefully and did not specifically mention same-sex marriage, LGBT rights activists said they appreciate his expression of support.

'We are grateful the president highlighted the marriage referendum in his remarks today,' said Josh Levin, campaign director for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, after the fundraiser.

'Voters identify with his journey on the issue and are re-thinking their own position on same-sex marriage. A strong majority already realize this is about treating Gays and Lesbians fairly under the law and about dignity for all Maryland families, not just some families.

'The president's history-making leadership on marriage equality has inspired new conversations around kitchen tables and in church pews, not just in Maryland but all over the country,' Levin added.

Maryland's legislature passed a marriage equality bill in February and Gov. Martin O'Malley signed it into law on March 1. As in Washington, it was challenged in a petition campaign led by a coalition of Catholic and evangelical churches.

The Maryland Marriage Alliance has since turned in more than twice the number of signatures needed to qualify a referendum on the law for the November ballot.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted after Obama's endorsement of equal marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples showed that his support has had a significant impact on the African-American community.

The poll found that 59% of black respondents said they support marriage rights for same-sex couples - an 18-point increase from surveys taken before the president backed the issue.

In his speech, the president also ticked off a number of other progressive issues.

'We're not going back to the days when you could get kicked out of the United States military because of who you are and who you love,' he said, referring to the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'

He also reaffirmed his strong support for reproductive choice - a principle now under fire from the same coalition of religious conservatives who oppose marriage equality.

'We don't need another political fight & over a woman's right to choose,' Obama said. 'I want women to control their own health choices.'

Pres. Obama also made a reference to immigration policy and a referendum on the Dream Act, which will also be on the November ballot.

'It's time to stop denying citizenship to responsible young people just because they are children of undocumented immigrants,' Obama said.

'This country is at its best when it harnesses the God-given talents of every individual.'

The president's re-election campaign reportedly raised $2 million in his swing through Maryland.

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