.- Marriage supporters in Maryland have announced they gathered well over 100,000 signatures in a marriage petition drive, most likely securing a referendum on the stateâs new âgay marriageâ law.
Derek McCoy, executive director of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, explained at a May 29 press conference that âevery single day we have been getting more and more momentum.â
In what he described as a âmomentousâ occasion, the alliance submitted more than twice the necessary signatures to place a new state law legalizing âgay marriageâ before the people in a referendum.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance joined with several other pro-marriage and pro-family groups to gather petitions to put the Civil Marriage Protection Act on the ballot in November.
In order for the issue to appear on the ballot in November, the Secretary of State must rule that at least 55,736 signatures from the campaign are valid. A third of those â about 18,300 â had to be submitted by May 31.
Previous Maryland referendum campaigns have seen between 20 and 30 percent of signatures ruled invalid.
McCoy announced that as of May 29, the alliance had collected more than 113,000 signatures, with thousands more still pouring in. This number far exceeds the first deadline requirement and is more than double the total number of necessary signatures.
âIâm ecstatic,â McCoy said, explaining that the overwhelming success with the petition has shown âengagement from every single corner of this state.â
Recent endorsements of âgay marriageâ by President Barack Obama and the NAACP have only âhelped energize our crowd,â he added.
âPeople that were on the fence are no longer on the fence,â he explained. âTheyâre engaged.â
The Maryland Catholic Conference, which joined with the Maryland Marriage Alliance in conducting signature drives throughout the state, noted that those who signed the petition âbridge the usual partisan divideâ and âspan generations and religions.â
On March 1, Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a controversial âgay marriageâ bill, making Maryland the eighth state to redefine marriage to include homosexual couples.
However, an amendment added to the bill delays it from taking effect until Jan. 2013. This allows time for marriage supporters to put the law before the stateâs voters in a November referendum.
Marriage has been upheld as the union of one man and one woman in all 31 states where the issue has been brought to a vote.
McCoy explained that the people of Maryland have been âincredibly chargedâ and âincredibly motivatedâ throughout the signature-gathering process.
He thanked the thousands of individuals who have âtirelessly worked to ensure that Marylanders get the opportunity to vote on this critical issue.â
The Maryland Marriage Alliance will continue collecting signatures through the month of June, he said, adding that efforts to support the referendum will continue up until voting day in November.
âEvery day, people are encouraged about this issue,â he explained. âWeâve had countless calls.â
McCoy believes that the responsiveness of Marylanders shows that they are supportive of efforts to defend marriage.
âWeâve just represented what they desire,â he said, explaining that the people of the state want to see marriage âdefined and upheld between one man and one woman.â