Question 6 (colloquially called the Maryland same-sex marriage referendum) is a referendum that appeared on the general election ballot for the U.S. state of Maryland to allow voters to approve or reject the Civil Marriage Protection Act—a bill legalizing same-sex marriage passed by the General Assembly in 2012. The referendum was approved by 52.4% of voters on November 6, 2012 and thereafter went into effect on January 1, 2013.
The ballot measure read as follows:
Civil Marriage Protection Act
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.
The choices read as follows:
For the Referred Law
Against the Referred Law
The Civil Marriage Protection Act was passed by the Maryland General Assembly in February 2012 and signed on March 1, 2012, by Governor Martin O'Malley. The Maryland House of Delegates approved the bill by a 72–67 vote, and the Maryland Senate approved the bill by a vote of 25–22. Sections 2, 3 and 4 of the bill were included to ensure that religious leaders, religiously-controlled institutions, and their programs are legally protected from being required to officiate or provide facilities for a same-sex marriage or couple if they refuse.
Opponents of same-sex marriage announced the launch of the petition drive for the referendum two weeks later. "The General Assembly and the governor do not have the final word on marriage in Maryland," said Derek McCoy, executive director of Maryland Marriage Alliance. "The people do." Petitioners submitted more than twice the number of required signatures to place the referendum on the election ballot, and in June, the State Board of Elections announced that enough were validated.
Support for Question 6 consisted of a coalition of civil rights leaders, clergy, businesses, partners, and politicians known as Marylanders for Marriage Equality. The opposition to Question 6 consisted of religious figures and politicians known as the Maryland Marriage Alliance.
Governor Martin O'Malley, a Catholic, led the 2012 campaign for same-sex marriage in Maryland. O’Malley said he concluded that "discriminating against individuals based on their sexual orientation in the context of civil marital rights is unjust" and "treating the children of families headed by same-sex couples with lesser protections under the law than the children of families headed by heterosexual parents, is also unjust."
Arguments supporting Question 6 included protecting the children of gay and lesbian couples by affording their parents equal rights under the law, improving quality of life, principles of fairness, civil equality, and highlighting religious protections. Arguments in opposition to Question 6 included protecting children from being taught same-sex marriage in public schools with a focus on "boys can marry boys", preserving parental rights, a traditional definition of marriage as between one man and one woman, and protecting religious beliefs. An official at Gallaudet University, Angela McCaskill, used as an example of religious persecution in a political ad opposing same-sex marriage, opted to have herself removed because it was misleading. McCaskill, who was fired after the university learned that she signed the petition in opposition of Question 6, said she signed solely "because she believed the matter should be voted on." Her personal views on same-sex marriage were unknown. Religious officials, as well as supporters of same-sex marriage rallied for McCaskill and called for her reinstatement, stating that she should not be penalized for her personal views. Several dozen small employers in the state have said that same-sex marriage will be good for business, helping to attract and retain talent.
Advocates for Question 6 raised a total of approximately $4.1 million: contributions from the organizations and individuals under Marylanders for Marriage Equality (78.5%), Human Rights Campaign's National Marriage Fund and Maryland Families PAC (14.2%), NAACP's National Voter Fund for Question 6 (5.8%), Freedom to Marry's Maryland PAC (0.9%), and Maryland for All Families (0.1%). Opponents of Question 6 raised a total of approximately $1.7 million: contributions from the organizations and individuals under Maryland Marriage Alliance, National Organization for Marriage (75%), and the Knights of Columbus (14.7%).Notable Supporters
Public opinion surveys have reported those in favor of same-sex marriage and those opposed.
On November 6, 2012, the measure was approved by 52.4% of voters. In a statement regarding the election results, Governor Martin O'Malley said "Whether your parents happen to be gay or straight, Democratic, Republican or Independent, your families are equal before the eyes of the law." The leading opposition group said that "No matter how it turns out, there have been thousands of people who are engaged in the process." On November 29, 2012, Attorney General Doug Gansler issued a legal opinion stating that court clerks could begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples once the governor certified the election results on December 6, 2012, though they would not become effective until January 1, 2013. 21 out of the 24 counties in Maryland chose to issue the licenses ahead of schedule.
An exit poll conducted by AP and Edison Research found:7 in 10 young voters, age 29 and under, voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
Almost 6 in 10 of those age 30 to 44 voted in favor of same-sex marriage.
Nearly two-thirds of women with children voted in favor of same sex marriage.
White residents voted in favor of same sex marriage by over 54%.
African American residents narrowly voted against same sex marriage.
Those over age 45 slightly voted against same-sex marriage.
Nearly two-thirds of those age 65 and older voted against same-sex marriage.