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Opponents Of Maryland Same-Sex Marriage Law Ready Petition

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Opponents of same-sex marriage rallied in Hagerstown, Md. April 23.
Elliott Francis
Opponents of same-sex marriage rallied in Hagerstown, Md. April 23.

Opponents of Maryland's new same-sex marriage law are beginning to gather the 56,000 signatures needed put the matter to a referendum vote in November, and they're getting some help from the Internet. 

The opponents think they have a pretty good chance at overturning the law in November. A recent poll conducted by Opinion Works suggests that might be true, as 43 percent of the respondents polled favored overturning the law while 40 percent said they want to keep it in place. The remainder of those polled said they're undecided. 

Before the public can weigh in, however, opponents must collect enough legal signatures to put the question on the ballot. To help avoid the problem of invalid signatures, many are being gathered using an online petition gathering site, MdPetitions.com

"It's paired with the state board of elections, so we automatically get valid voter information from them," says organizer Jeff Isbell. "Voters sign it send it back to us, and they can even do it for other family members and everyone in their household can sign it, and we're getting more valid information." 

The group of same-sex marriage opponents rallied yesterday just down the street from a planned appearance by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) at the opening of new state police barracks in Hagerstown. State Del. Neil Parrott (R), who opposes same-sex marriage and helped create MdPetitions.com, attended the rally. He believes the governor was wrong to push for same-sex marriage in the state. 

"His policies are dividing Maryland. He first did it in this session by spending over half the time passing the same-sex marriage bill over the will of the people and the majority of Marylanders," Parrott said. 

Since its inception by the Maryland General Assembly in 1914, the right to petition and bring to referendum certain legislation has been used 18 times. About half of those attempts have passed. O'Malley supports the right of referendum, but insists the same-sex marriage law is the right thing to do. 

"Well I don't know, it's pretty easy to to get a petition to the ballot; they ll probably succeed," the governor said Monday of the petition effort. "However, I think that at the end of the day, Marylanders will see that we can and should protect religious freedom and the rights of individuals equally under the law, and that's really what that bill does." 

Opponents of same-sex marriage have 60 days to gather the necessary signatures.

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