Black organization spearheads marriage equality efforts in Maryland
With the introduction of a marriage equality bill in Maryland, LGBT activists are increasingly optimistic about the prospect of nuptials for same-sex couples to in the Free State. And one of the state’s leading black organizations continues to rally support for the issue.
Equality Maryland announced the introduction of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act in both the House and Senate last month, which would end the exclusion of gays and lesbians from civil marriage and allow religious institutions to opt-out of performing same-sex unions if they so choose. Lisa Polyak, vice president of Equality Maryland’s Board of Directors, singled out the Maryland Black Family Alliance for its efforts to bring the message of marriage equality to people of faith and color across the state.
The MBFA’s efforts include producing a public service announcement and providing funding and support to Equality Maryland, Trans-United, the Maryland ACLU and other LGBT groups across the state. The organization also appeared in the film "Maryland Voices of Equality" that highlights issues facing LGBT Marylanders.
Darrell Carrington, founding member of the MBFA, said the decision to support marriage equality was an easy one to make.
"It’s a simple matter of fairness, equality, and justice," Carrington told EDGE. "We cannot have any American citizens denied the rights of any other American citizens. This is a simple matter of equal protection and due process under the law."
Polls continue to indicate Marylanders increasingly support marriage equality, and Carrington said the gap between white and black voters on the issue has virtually closed. Resistance remains, however, among some Christian groups that continue to insist marriage should remain between one man and one woman.
"For us we look at Jesus as love, compassion, and inclusion-that’s the story that you were supposed to take from the Bible’s narrative," said Carrington. "Love is all encompassing and all inclusive. In some regards, we’re a little shocked that we’ve experienced resistance. This is civil process and it’s something that is not inconsistent with faith. In fact, our outreach director, Lea Gilmore, often says she supports marriage equality not in spite of her faith but because of her faith."