The Baltimore branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has become the latest organization to join the umbrella organization Marylanders for Marriage Equality in the fight for marriage equality in the Free State.
Organization members are expected to lobby legislators and stir up grassroots support for marriage as they push a bill legalizing same-sex marriage through the Maryland Legislature during its 2012 session. Should such a bill pass, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, has said he would sign it into law.
By joining the coalition, the NAACP joins a number of other groups including Progressive Maryland, Equality Maryland, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Freedom to Marry campaign, Catholics for Equality, the Maryland Black Family Alliance, Pride in Faith and a number of labor unions.
''The NAACP's long history of working for everybody and its history of organizing experience will help us explain why marriage equality matters,'' says Sultan Shakir, campaign manager at Marylanders for Marriage Equality.
Shakir says the addition of the NAACP helps broaden the coalition of pro-marriage groups to reach out to all communities – whether geographic, racial or economic – within the state as part of its campaign to allow loving, committed couples to obtain civil marriages.
A poll by conducted by Grove Insight in February 2011 found that 49 percent of Marylanders support allowing same-sex couples to legally marry, compared to 41 percent in opposition. The poll also measured support for same-sex marriage among the African-American and Catholic communities, two of the largest voting constituencies in the state.
Among African Americans, the poll found 48 percent support marriage equality while 41 percent oppose it. Among Catholics, support for same-sex marriage was at 55 percent, with 39 percent opposing it.