By CAITLIN JOHNSTON
COLLEGE PARK, Md.—The same-sex marriage referendum in Maryland was passed by a vote of 1,252,568 (51.9%) to 1,158,719 (48.1%).
The win broke a 32-state streak of voters rejecting gay marriage by popular vote.
Everybody should be able to love somebody and get married, said Valerie Millings, 52, at the Northwood Elementary School polling place in Baltimore. And they can pay taxes, while theyre at it.
Maine and Washington also were voting on legalizing same-sex marriage Tuesday. Minnesota was voting on whether to approve or reject a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Were setting an example for the rest of the country, said Brendon Ayanbadejo, Baltimore Ravens linebacker and outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage. Some states are kind of behind the ball. Marylands going to lead the way. Were going to show everybody else how to do it the right way.
Supporters of same-sex marriage said its a civil rights issue that comes down to equal treatment for all. Opponents countered that its about protecting the sanctity of marriage.
The Bible says marriage is between one man and one woman, said Melvin Smith, 68, at the Northwood Elementary School polling place in Baltimore. I dont want gay marriage out in the open like theyve been campaigning for. I dont care if theyre together, but they should keep it to themselves.
The NAACP was a strong proponent of the referendum. Documents from the
anti-marriage equality group called the National Organization for Marriage
recently unsealed by the courts revealed their strategy to drive a wedge
between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies, according to an
NAACP press release.
This victory sends a powerful message, said NAACP Maryland State Conference
President Gerald Stansbury. Those who would seek to divide our communities have
watched as African Americans stood alongside LGBT leaders to show that we would
not be divided when it comes to matters of equal protection under the law.
A recent NAACP poll of African American voters in battleground states (Florida,
Georgia, Ohio, and Virginia) found that 57% of respondents support marriage
equality laws that include religious protections for churches, as was the case
with Question 6.
This election was the first to see same-sex marriage on the ballot since President Barack Obama announced his support of marriage equality last spring.
It makes sense to me for these people to have their rights
even though my church doesnt believe in it, said Anne Quinn, 62, at the Stone Mill Elementary School polling place in North Potomac.
Though polls leading up to the election showed a healthy margin of success for the ballot measure, supporters were nervous that those numbers wouldnt carry through to the results a common problem in other states where same-sex marriage failed when put to a popular vote. But Gov. Martin OMalley said Obamas support of the issue and his popularity in Maryland would help carry it through.
People have come to associate this issue with his vision of a country thats growing not only more prosperous but also more inclusive, OMalley said. So I think, for that reason, you wont see quite the Election Day slippage here in Maryland that youve seen in other states.
The Democratic Party added support of same sex marriage to its platform at its national convention in Charlotte.
Volunteers spent months staffing nightly phone banks, canvassing door-to-door and finding ways to make same-sex marriage a personal issue for voters.
Maryland would become the seventh state alongside the district to legalize same-sex marriage.
I think the people of our state understand our diversity is our greatest strength and we can protect religious freedom and individual rights equally under the law, OMalley said. I believe the people of our state are always forward moving and are not prone to restrict the rights of other people.
Capital News Services Julie Baughman and somd.com's David Noss contributed to this report.