Wednesday, October 17, 2012

All Hands on Deck


We are closing in on decision day whereby the voters of Maryland will decide on a bunch of ballot initiatives as well as President of the U.S.  The Dream Act, the gambling measure and marriage equality will be among the hotly contested questions.
For marriage equality proponents, Question 6 will afford us the opportunity to break the 32-state losing streak whereby voters get to decide on the rights of the minority.  Those are not good odds, but there is increasing optimism that the tide will change this year. However, much work is still needed.

To those in the LGBT community who are single, coupled but not desiring to marry, don’t see yourselves as ever being coupled, or just plain don’t care,  I have a message for you: get on board anyway.  If the Civil Marriage Protection Act that was signed into law by Gov. O’Malley this past March is upheld on November 6, it will be the culmination of a long and tedious battle that has been waged by so many of your LGBT brothers and sisters, allies, and elected officials. 
A large number have made great sacrifices for this cause, and it was not simply to celebrate with a lavish wedding.  They struggled hard for nearly a decade to obtain the rights, benefits and responsibilities that civil marriage confers.  They have fought to gain the financial and legal protections needed for themselves and for the children they are raising.  And they fought to arrive at a level of standing that is finally equal to the heterosexual population.  No longer would we and our families be regarded as second-class citizens.

Even if marriage is not for you, the latter reason alone should be persuasive.  Plus, it gives you an option should you change your mind eventually.  Our community needs to band together and take this fight to the end.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality (MFME) and its coalition partners have taken up the battle to win the hearts and minds of the voters.  They seem to have the wind at their backs as we enter the final weeks of the campaign.  Polls show positive data, but they must be discounted for myriad reasons. 

Yet, we can feel a change brewing as more people are being educated on how marriage equality will not negatively impact the existing marriages of others, how school children will not be inundated with pro-gay lessons in class, and how religious institutions will not ever be forced to officiate a marriage of a same-sex couple if that is their choice.
We received the important endorsement from President Obama and the state’s leadership.  We also received public support from the NAACP, leading clergy and several celebrities. There have been some good TV ads so far and hopefully more on the way.

MFME is responsible for the nuts and bolts of the campaign: fundraising, attracting volunteers, phone banking, canvassing, messaging, paying staff, enlisting support from the faith community and developing advertising to compete with such opponents as the Maryland Marriage Alliance. 
Governor Martin O’Malley has been a leader in raising money for the campaign to finance these expenses. MFME has raised $3.2 million (including a donation of $250,000 from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg) according to papers filed at the State Board of Elections and have $1.2 million in the bank and counting. 

Optimistically, the campaign will spend those dollars wisely to offset an advertising campaign from the well-funded Maryland Marriage Alliance that will certainly become more characterized by scare tactics and lies as we approach Election Day.  They normally save their nastiest stuff for the end when they cannot be fact-checked in time. Why won’t they?  It’s worked before—every time.

“We are certain our ads will help Marylanders understand the importance of preserving marriage in our state,” Derek McCoy, chairman of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, said in a press release announcing their latest ad. “Our ad highlights for voters the very fact that marriage is about more than just two adults doing what they want. Marriage is about the next generation and ensuring that all children are given the opportunity to be raised by their mother and father.”  This is relatively gentle; it will get worse—guaranteed.
While MFME is doing its thing, we have seen innovative work from individuals outside the campaign who are working towards the goal of marriage equality.  Mark Patro, Gerry Fisher, David Kimble, Mike Bernard, Rev. Meredith Moises and June Horner are just of some those who are already making an impact.  They should be saluted for their initiatives—win or lose.

The effort is there by many, but our community could put us over the top if we all become involved in full force and work together.  The campaign can still very much use donations even though other LGBT organizations are seeking funds as well, so there is competition for dollars. 
But if contributions are not for you there are other ways you can help.  The campaign needs canvassers and volunteers for phone banking.  They also seek volunteers to show up at the election precincts to hand out literature or hold signs.  Visit Marylanders for Marriage Equality to see how you can help.

Most importantly of all, we need the LGBT community, its allies, friends, neighbors, co-workers and family members to vote FOR Question 6 on November 6.  Another opportunity is not in the cards.  This is it.  All hands on deck.

2 comments:

Mike Bernard said...

Having conversations with your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers is so very effective.

Will you send individual messages to your Facebook friends to ask them to vote for Question 6? You can create your message in Word or an e-mail and copy your message to each friend. It does not take long.

Anything you do will help.

If you do nothing - we may have our right to marry revoked.

Mike Bernard said...

Want to know simple, effective ways to become involved that fits your schedule? Join the Marriage Equality Information Exchange - Maryland group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/marriage.info.exchange.md/

There are all kinds of things there!