The National Black Justice Coalition Celebrates Maryland Governor O’Malley Signing Marriage Equality into Law
WASHINGTON, D.C. – MARCH 2, 2012 – Yesterday Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed the state's marriage equality bill into law. With his signature, Maryland became the eighth state, plus the District of Columbia, to enact such a groundbreaking law.
“We celebrate this victory and commend Gov. O’Malley for his commitment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community here in Maryland,” says Sharon Lettman-Hicks, executive director of the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). “Two people in a committed relationship, gay or straight, should be able to take care of each other as they see fit and to the full extent that the law allows. Marriage is what allows them to do just that.”
Research shows that the opinions of African American Marylanders are in line with the growing number of Black faith leaders that support marriage equality across the country. In a Maryland poll conducted in late January by The Washington Post, 36 percent of African Americans in Prince George’s County said they believe marriage for gay and lesbian couples should be legal. This is no insignificant minority.
A recent report from the Public Religion Research Institute indicates that one third of Black Protestants surveyed nationally are supportive of marriage equality. Members of historically Black churches make up 18 percent of Maryland’s population, more than double the numbers seen on a national level, and constitute over one million voters in the state.
Marriage equality opponents are prepared to collect the signatures needed to put the measure on the ballot, and are expected to rely heavily on churchgoers who oppose marriage for gay and lesbian couples.
“We’re prepared to do whatever it takes to continue to protect LGBT families and loving couples,” adds Lettman-Hicks. “Denying committed couples the security and legal protections of marriage hurts them; it’s wrong to make it harder for them to be responsible for each other and their children.”
This triumph in Maryland comes just weeks after a major win against Proposition 8 and marriage equality bills being passed in Washington and New Jersey. Despite New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's disappointing veto, these legislative gains are a sign of the changing hearts and minds of members of our government and community.
As we take a moment to celebrate this victory, NBJC is prepared for the work ahead.
The National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC) is a civil rights organization dedicated to empowering Black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. NBJC’s mission is to end racism and homophobia.
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