ANNAPOLIS—Leaders of a successful website-driven petition drive and a statewide religious coalition announced Wednesday that they will join hands to overturn gay marriage in a Nov. 6 referendum.
Delegate Neil Parrott, chairman of MDPetitions.com, and Derek McCoy, executive director of Maryland Marriage Alliance, said their new partnership simplifies the petition drive, allowing voters to either download petition forms or to sign at their church, synagogue or mosque. The pair plans to gather 100,000 signatures by June 30, nearly double the 55,736 signatures required by the Board of Elections.
"This is a huge agreement between our two groups," said Del. Parrott, who was backed by more than a dozen legislators of both parties who joined him for the press conference in the House of Delegates Office Building. "These legislators fully support letting the people vote on the issue."
McCoy said proponents of same-sex marriage already had spent $500,000 to gain its passage. "They are going to throw a lot of money at it, and we are going to respond appropriately," he said.
Baltimore County Democrat Del. Emmett Burns, a Baptist minister, said most Marylanders do not support gay marriage. "It will not happen," he said. "The real victory will be in November when the people decide."
Del. Cheryl Glenn, a Baltimore Democrat, agreed, saying, "I'm supporting the petition drive because I have been overwhelmed by constituents begging me to support traditional marriage."
Del. Kathy Szeliga, a Baltimore County Republican, said, "This is a bipartisan effort. We all are committed to getting this issue on the ballot Nov. 6."
Del. Tony O'Donnell, Republican Minority Leader, said supporters of traditional marriage cross political, ethnic and religious divides, describing them as "Democrats and Republicans, white and black."
Asked by one reporter whether the referendum effort could be blocked by Gov. Martin O'Malley and the judges he has appointed, Republican Del. Don Dwyer of Anne Arundel County replied, "We are going to do everything in our power to make sure the process is not thwarted."
O'Malley is scheduled to sign the same-sex marriage bill into law 5 p.m. Thursday.