Maryland Guv in NYC to Defend Marriage Equality Back Home

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, with filmmaker John Waters looking on, addresses the crowd at a Manhattan marriage equality fundraiser. | GAY CITY NEWS

Saying that “we are at the 95-yard line,” but also that “we need to be able to show we can win at the ballot box,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley spoke optimistically to Gay City News about the prospects for that state’s marriage equality law being affirmed by voters in a referendum on November 6.

O’Malley was in Lower Manhattan on September 13 to headline a fundraiser for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

The governor said that President Barack Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage in May coupled with the prominent play the issue got in the recent Democratic National Convention in Charlotte was worth “$1 million” in support of those working to win the November referendum. The convention was “stunning,” he said, in the way speakers “wove the Dream Act and the marriage equality issue” into a theme of “fuller freedoms for all Americans.”

Asked how serious a problem the opposition to marriage equality by the leaders of some large African-American congregations and the state’s Catholic Conference was for those seeking to protect the new marriage law, O’Malley said, “Very serious. Some religious leaders will try to scare people and divide people.”

Manuella Hancock, vice president of the board of Equality Maryland, said the fact that the governor is a “practicing Catholic” provides help in countering the Church’s official opposition. Obama’s statement earlier this year on marriage, she said, helped “frame it in the right way” for African Americans and other voters, in emphasizing that within the LGBT community “there are families already existing that are under attack.

With marriage equality before voters in four states this fall, the governor said, “We need to pick ourselves up from the fatigue and exhaustion of past disappointments in referendums.”

Filmmaker John Waters, a native of Baltimore whose work is often set in that city, said, “I want to be the first place to win. We all know how hard it is to fall in love, straight or gay.”