Maryland’s marriage referendum language finalized for November ballot

On Monday, Maryland's Secretary of State released the approved language for the ballot initiative that will appear on the November 6 ballot in Maryland. The ballot initiative, Question 6, is entitled, the "Civil Marriage Protection Act," which is the same name of the bill passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Martin O'Malley in March. Residents in Maryland will be asked to vote FOR Question 6 in order to extend the freedom to marry to same-sex couples and end their discriminatory exclusion from marriage in the state. 

The language states that approval of Question 6:

Establishes that Maryland's civil marriage laws allow gay and lesbian couples to obtain a civil marriage license, provided they are not otherwise prohibited from marrying; protects clergy from having to perform any particular marriage ceremony in violation of their religious beliefs; affirms that each religious faith has exclusive control over its own theological doctrine regarding who may marry within that faith; and provides that religious organizations and certain related entities are not required to provide goods, services, or benefits to an individual related to the celebration or promotion of marriage in violation of their religious beliefs.

 Advocates are largely pleased with the language, which makes it very clear that communities of faith can decide for themselves whether or not their congregations will perform marriages between same-sex couples. The law, of course, refers to civil marriage, meaning that lawful marriages between loving and committed same-sex couples would come attached with the same government protections as marriages between different-sex couples.

Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, expressed support for the language, saying:

The wording is accurate and straightforward and will serve as another way to educate voters. This referendum is about equality under the law and protecting religious freedom, and we know the more people know about this issue the more they support it. Voter education is what's fueling our momentum. 

Learn more about the freedom to marry in Maryland, or check out Marylanders for Marriage Equality for more information.