Pastors and pro-family advocates in Maryland have secured enough signatures to bring a vote on same-sex marriage to the November ballot, a move that means the heavily Democratic state could override the governor and state legislature by outlawing gay marriage at the ballot box.
In March, Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley signed a bill that passed the legislature by a slim majority legalizing same-sex marriage. In response, conservatives – including Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr. – worked to secure more than 55,000 signatures to bring the issue before the state's voters.
As of Thursday afternoon, election officials have validated over 70,000 signatures, about 15,000 more than were required by law, with more coming.
What makes the Maryland vote significant in 2012 is that no state has approved same-sex marriage when the issue was placed before voters statewide. In May, North Carolina voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that banned same-sex marriage and Minnesota will vote on a similar issue later this year.
The state's high percentage of Democratic voters – combined with the fact that President Obama gave his personal blessings to same-sex marriage last month – will most likely set the stage for both opponents and advocates of traditional marriage in Maryland to wage a hand-to-hand battle.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality is a group that supports the new law and announced on Thursday that they plan to open at least two campaign offices and hire a dozen staffers to encourage voters to defeat the issue in November.
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is confident Marylanders will vote in favor of traditional marriage in November.
"I think the chances are very good," Perkins told CP on Friday. "There have been only two previous attempts in the last 100 years to get issues on a Maryland ballot. Plus, every time the issue goes before the people it passes."
Bishop Jackson, who has long been a supporter of biblical marriage, told The Christian Post last month that his group that is comprised of pastors of several different denominations and races, will be encouraging all Marylanders to oppose same-sex marriage.
When Jackson was asked how blacks were responding to President Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage, he was blunt and direct in his response.
"The black community is in an adulterous relationship with President Obama," Jackson said. "He is asking us to stray from the most basic tenets of Scripture – that marriage is an institution made by God for man and woman to become one and procreate. He's telling us it's fine to hold onto our beliefs but that it's also okay to accept his stance on a position that goes against that core belief."