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Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), former Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman, former first daughter Barbara Bush and other celebrities will be hosting a fundraiser in New York City Sept. 13 to benefit the Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign, which is seeking to uphold the state’s recently passed marriage-equality law.
The fundraiser will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. at the rooftop bar of Jimmy at the James Hotel, at 15 Thompson St. in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood. Tickets range from $250 to $25,000, with those raising amounts in excess of $10,000 receiving special designation as “bronze,” “silver” or “gold” sponsors.
More than 30 other celebrities are expected to attend, among them former New York Rangers forward Sean Avery, actress and comic Sandra Bernhard, actress Julianna Margulies and husband Keith Lieberthal, actresses Julianne Moore, Sarah Jessica Parker and Susan Sarandon and hip-hop and clothing entrepreneur Russell Simmons.
Many of the celebrities previously lent their voices to the campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, appearing in videos for New Yorkers for Marriage Equality, the coalition that successfully lobbied Albany lawmakers, including four Republican senators who bucked party leadership, to pass the bill that made New York the sixth state to allow same-gender couples to obtain a civil marriage license.
The fundraiser continues the efforts of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition to raise money ahead of a November referendum, known as Question 6, which will ask Maryland voters to decide whether to uphold or overturn the Civil Marriage Protection Act, which was passed by the state Legislature and signed into law by O’Malley.
Marriage-equality opponents, led by the Maryland Marriage Alliance and backed by the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), have vowed to defeat the law at the ballot box. Political observers expect both sides to spend millions of dollars to convince voters to support their cause.
Josh Levin, campaign manager of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, previously estimated that the cost of just one week of television commercials airing in the Washington, D.C. and Baltimore media markets would cost up to $1.2 million.
As a result, the coalition has held several local fundraisers to ensure funding for the campaign through the fall season. The equality effort was also boosted by a recent $250,000 infusion from the Human Rights Campaign, backing moves to pass laws in Maine and Washington supporting marriage equality, and to defeat a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota, where same-sex marriage is already illegal by statute.
Money raised in New York will help pro-equality forces in Maryland run advertisements on television and radio, distribute mailers, phone bank, canvass neighborhoods and respond to falsehoods or misinformation about the marriage-equality law.