POLITICS

Maryland gay marriage opponents set up site calling for referendum

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It didn't take long for opponents of Maryland's same-sex marriage legislation to act on their promise of taking the issue to the voters.

Del. Neil Parrott resurrected MDPetitions.com Friday to push for a referendum on same-sex marriage. (Courtesy: MDPetitions.com)

In fact, it took less than a day for them to get MDPetitions.com back up, running and generating hundreds of hits from supporters looking to send the gay marriage bill to the voters.

Maryland Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington County) created the website last year to successfully garner enough votes to bring the issue of in-state college tuition to undocumented aliens, a bill more commonly known as the Dream Act, to next November's ballot.

On Friday, all Parrott had to do to his site was change the issue on the home page.

"If people go there now, they can sign up so that the second we launch the petition drive, they'll be notified immediately," he said.

The move comes just hours after the Maryland Senate narrowly passed the legislation late Thursday night. Gov. Martin O'Malley has already promised to sign the bill into law.

Before actual signatures asking for a referendum can be collected, the exact language of the petition needs to be approved by the state Board of Elections. Parrott and his coalition need to gather nearly 56,000 legitimate signatures by the end of June.

"I think it's the fair thing to do," Maryland resident Karen Glenn said. "I think letting the people decide what they want in their state is only fair."

Polls show that residents of the Free State are nearly evenly divided on same-sex marriage, with arguments coming for and against both same-sex marriage itself and the idea of a referendum.

"It's kind of childish," Maryland resident Khary McDonald said. "Leave people alone...live and let live."

When Gov. O'Malley signs the bill into law, Maryland will be the 8th state in the nation, along with the District of Columbia, to legalize same-sex marriage. The bill passed less than three weeks after Washington state's legislature passed its own gay marriage bill.

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