Maryland same-sex marriage opponents prepare referendum

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March 1, 2011

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ANNAPOLIS, Maryland: Opponents of pending Senate Bill 116, the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, are already gearing for a fight at the ballot box in 2012.

Senate Bill 116 is an attempt to alter existing law that permits only traditional, one man, one woman marriages. The bill, if passed, would grant equal rights and protections of marriage to same-sex couples in the state. The bill was approved by the Maryland State Senate following a 25 to 21 vote on February 24, 2011 and now remains pending in the Maryland House of Delegates.[1]

However, supporters are preparing to launch a petition drive should the bill be approved. Delegate Don Dwyer, Jr. said, "I can assure you that, should this bill come out of the House, it will go to referendum." Sen. Nancy Jacobs said, "I don't think the votes on that board accurately represent the citizens of the state of Maryland. I think the vote on referendum in 2012 will be the vote of the people and I think this deserves to go to the people, and I'm sure it will."[2]

According to state law, if the referendum is placed on the ballot it would prevent implementation of the pending legislation until 30 days after the referendum vote.[3]

In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters are required to collect and submit at least 55,737 valid signatures. Specifically, one-third of the required signatures must be submitted by May 31. The remaining signatures must be submitted by June 30.[3]

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