BELTSVILLE, Md. — With Maryland poised to legalize gay marriage, some conservative opponents and religious leaders are counting on members of their congregations, especially in black churches, to upend the legislation at the polls this fall.
Many African American church leaders oppose gay marriage in the liberal-leaning state that’s nearly one-third black, and President Barack Obama‘s re-election campaign is expected to drive many of their congregants to the polls.
Opponents submitted draft language for a ballot referendum to overturn the measure just after it passed the Legislature last week. Gov. Martin O’Malley was expected to sign the bill into law Thursday.
Over the weekend, some pastors at predominantly black churches were already using their sermons to shop the referendum effort to their congregations, asking members to sign up for email alerts, put their name on petitions and overturn the law come November. The Catholic Church, which has 1.2 million parishioners in Maryland, has also openly opposed the bill.