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MD Voters Approve Same-Sex Marriage
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November 7, 2012
In historic votes yesterday, Maryland and Maine became the first states in the nation to approve same sex marriage at the ballot box. A similar measure is narrowly ahead in Washington state, where ballots are still being counted. Minnesota voters were tasked with deciding a constitutional amendment to ban same sex marriage. That measure appears to have been rejected. Back here in Maryland, marriage equality advocates packed into the Baltimore Sound Stage to celebrate, while only a few opponents gathered in Annapolis. WYPR’s Joel McCord reports.
Joel McCord: All night long, the raucous crowd at Baltimore Sound Stage on Market Place had been cheering wildly as election results showed the same sex marriage question holding a lead, sometimes two points, sometimes three. But when Governor Martin O’Malley and the Senators and Delegates who had muscled the bill through the General Assembly last spring appeared onstage they let loose. A roaring Delegate Luke Clippinger, an openly gay Baltimore Democrat, welcomed the crowd to his district, where they campaigned hard for the victory.
Luke Clippinger: “Where we went and talked to our neighbors, we talked to our families, we talked to Republicans, we talked to Democrats, we talked to libertarians, we talked to librarians, we talked to everybody we could talk to.”
McCord: He said they told people what victory would mean to them and their families.
Clippinger: “And when we knocked on thousands of doors and made thousands of phone calls we got to the point tonight when we could all look at each other as Marylanders and say, ‘We’re truly equal.’”
McCord: Senator Richard Madaleno, a Montgomery County Democrat, had a proposal.
Richard Madaleno: “Hopefully, somewhere in Kensington Mark Hodge is watching this broadcast, and honey, I say will you marry me again.”
McCord: The bill narrowly passed the General Assembly in March and Governor O’Malley signed it within weeks in a ceremony in the lobby of the State House. But not long after that opponents launched a petition drive to put the question on the ballot. Last night, O’Malley said those of both major parties and of many faiths came to the same conclusion.
Martin O’Malley: “That every child’s home deserves to be protected equally under the law.”
McCord: While the advocates celebrated, a small crowd of opponents gathered at the headquarters for the Maryland Marriage Alliance in Annapolis. Hundreds of cheese squares went uneaten, and a fountain for punch was never turned on. Yet Derek McCoy, chairman of the group, wouldn’t concede. He said they'd check the tally in the morning. And he suggested that the votes in favor for same sex marriage had something to do with Maryland’s large African American voting population.
Derek McCoy: “You look at it and say: are they affected with the evolution of President Obama and really, the overt endorsement of the NAACP? What took place in this election will be in textbooks alike in university settings and high school settings, telling people about campaigning, and what's essential and what's not."
Tape: Monica Jones singing
McCord: The crowd at Baltimore Sound Stage came in happy and stayed that way. Monica Jones made up her own song for her friends Ruth Siegel and Nina Nethery, who have been together for 15 years. Nina said they have taken part in several commitment ceremonies.
Nina Nethery: “Every chance we get we do a commitment ceremony. But that doesn’t count. It counts for us personally, but it doesn’t count for benefits.”
McCord: Delegate Maggie McIntosh, the first openly gay member of the General Assembly, worked her way through the crowd of reporters. She said the win makes Maryland a leader in a national movement. And for her, personally…
Maggie McIntosh: “It means, um, um, it means a lot. Thank you Maryland.”
McCord: Contrary to the opponents’ arguments, she said, the same sex marriage law does not redefine marriage. But it recognizes families that deserve the opportunity to get a civil marriage license in a civil court. With Stephanie Hughes in Annapolis, I’m Joel McCord reporting in downtown Baltimore for 88.1, WYPR.
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