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.
The last effort to bring marriage equality to Maryland ended when the Court of Appeals in Sept. 2007 upheld traditional marriage in a 4-3 decision. Chief Judge Robert Bell, the first black person to lead the court, dissented from the majority’s opinion. He noted while “there are important differences between the African American experience and that of gays and lesbians in this country […] many of the arguments made in support of the anti-miscegenation laws were identical to those made today in opposition to same-sex marriage.”
Carrington supported Bell’s sentiments, adding gays and lesbians were some of the first to support the black civil rights movement.
“Back in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, lesbians and gays joined in the work of the civil rights movement to help African Americans get their full inclusion in our country and into our institutions,” he said. “I don’t see how you can turn your back on a group of folks that are fighting for a chance to have the same rights. As Dr. King had said, anytime that there is a threat to justice anywhere it’s a threat to justice everywhere.”