Del. Neil Parrott recently ran a signature drive which successfully brought the controversial Dream Act (which would give in-state tuition benefits at a local community college to illegal immigrant students who have graduated from a public high school in that county and whose parents pay Maryland taxes) up for referendum. Other state legislators who opposed the act were initially skeptical of the efficacy of a signature drive. Senator Parrott and other Republicans now see petitions as a viable way to fight legislation as the minority party. And according to an article on The Capital‘s website they are looking forward to using the same process to thwart any marriage equality bill that passes in the senate.
Governor O’Malley’s plans to pass a gay-marriage bill next year could put it on the ballot in 2012 for a referendum (assuming opponents get enough signatures to bring the bill to a referendum). Senate Minority Leader Nancy Jacobs implies that this could be bad for Democrats, as a gay-marriage referendum would lure more socially conservative voters to the polls. Does she think that pro-gay-rights voters might not also come out in droves at the opportunity to legalize same sex marriage in Maryland?
What do you think? Would a gay-marriage bill in Maryland get voted down in a referendum? Will it never get past the legislature? Does the marriage equality movement have a chance of converting enough conservative senators in this state as it did in New York?
Can you imagine any of our Republican senators echoing the sentiments of State Senator Mark J. Grisanti of Buffalo? Grisanti said in a short speech before casting his vote, “I believe this state needs to provide equal rights and protection to all of its citizens.” He went on, “I cannot deny a person, a human being, a taxpayer, a worker, the people of my district and across this state…the same rights I have with my wife.”