On Thursday Maryland became the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage as Governor Martin O'Malley signed the bill into law. The Governor, once a supporter of civil unions instead of marriage, by last summer was saying "I have concluded that discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation in the context of civil marital rights is unjust." Now opponents are preparing a referendum and are obsessing over its wording before the November election.
Sound familiar? It should. Washington just went through this exact same script last month. Both states are in almost the exact same circumstances and both are grappling with likely referendums with controversial wordings. The big difference is the scheduled start-date. In Washington legalization goes into effect June 7 and won't be challenged on the ballot till November. In Maryland their law doesn't go into effect until January of next year, enough time for their referendum to be decided beforehand.
When Governor Chris Gregoire signed a bill last month making Washington the seventh state to legalize same-sex marriage, she apologized for taking so long in backing same-sex marriage. "I have been very conflicted with my underlying Catholic faith when it came to marriage," she said. "It took me time (but) yeah, I apologize it took me so long." Support in Washington has polled between 47 percent and 54 percent.
When Governor Martin O'Malley signed a bill last Thursday making Maryland the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage, he was warned by Baltimore's archbishop it would (like Gregoire) "deeply conflict" with his catholic faith. O'Malley essentially responded with, 'you and I disagree. You do church stuff and I do civil-rights stuff. Don't tell me how to do my job and I won't tell you how to do yours.' Support in Maryland has dropped slightly to 49 percent from 51 percent in October 2011.
Maine will join Washington and Maryland with same-sex marriage referendums on the ballot. Maine passed a same-sex marriage law in 2009 only to see it repealed by referendum 53-47 percent the same year. Same-sex marriage has never been approved in a state-wide referendum, although momentum is shifting. A just-released Gallup poll shows national support has risen from 40 percent in 2008 to 53 percent.