State officials last week certified the signatures on a petition calling for a ballot question regarding same-sex marriage.
Maryland Marriage Alliance submitted more than 160,000 signatures and the state Board of Elections last Tuesday announced that it was discontinuing the review process after successfully certifying 109,000 signatures, nearly double the required allotment.
The wording for the ballot question has not yet been determined.
The state legalized same-sex marriage earlier this year but the law was immediately stayed in anticipation of a likely voter referendum.
If a majority of voters come out against marriage equality, the law will be nullified.
A number of agencies and activists are ramping up efforts to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Last week, Marylanders for Marriage Equality — which is coordinating the work of groups such as Equality Maryland, the local American Civil Liberties Union affiliate and Human Rights Campaign — launched a new website to encourage mainstream voters to back marriage equality.
The site includes a new ad targeted to African-American voters, with remarks by an array of African-American Marylanders, most of whom are allies.
The video has drawn the praise of such figures as National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chair Dr. Julian Bond, who said it “shows us what the same-sex marriage debate is really about: our gay and lesbian family members, neighbors, friends, coworkers and those who support them. It’s this human side we cannot forget about as the campaign gets underway.”
About a quarter of Maryland voters are African-American, and Marylanders for Marriage Equality plans to target other demographics throughout the campaign.
According to a May poll by Public Policy Polling, 55 percent of African-American Marylanders said they will vote for marriage equality. That survey found that 57 percent of all respondents planned to support marriage equality.
In the coming weeks, the agency, which has opened up offices in Baltimore and Silver Spring and plans to launch several others before the fall, will focus on grassroots efforts — going door-to-door, phonebanking and tabling at events and festivals throughout the state.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality spokesperson Kevin Nix said Philadelphians can be of assistance in the effort.
“Folks in Philly who may know supporters in Maryland should pick up the phone and encourage them to help out, and everyone can go to MarylandersforMarriage-Equality.org to get involved,” he said. “Just like in previous states where marriage equality is now the law, a win in Maryland will continue to push the ball down the field and help in other states, especially in the region.”
Maryland voters will not be the only ones weighing in on marriage equality in November.
In Washington, marriage-equality opponents in June submitted enough signatures to get the question to the ballot. The state legalized same-sex marriage in February and the petition was submitted days before the law was set to go into effect.
Activists in Maine are also mobilizing for marriage. Three years ago, the state’s voters rejected an initiative to allow same-sex marriage but supporters got the measure back on the ballot this year, marking the only marriage-equality referendum spearheaded by LGBT supporters.