ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The state’s same-sex marriage ballot question was a strong motivator for getting to the polls Tuesday, voters said in the heavily Democratic state that rarely holds much suspense in the presidential election.
Voters faced longer-than-usual lines and an unusually long ballot. Maryland could potentially become the first state where voters determine on Question 6 whether to allow same-sex marriage.
Cheryl Klam, a 50-year-old Annapolis resident, said the question was one of the main reasons she came out to vote.
“It kind of reminds me of the civil rights movement,” Klam, a Democrat, said. “This is a chance to give everyone equal rights, so I felt like it was my civic duty to leave the kids at home and come here and vote for it,” Klam said.
For Robert Coleman, a 70-year-old Republican, it was an easy “No” vote.
“Raised a Catholic and just don’t believe in it,” Coleman said in Annapolis.
Some Republicans, particularly younger ones, didn’t have trouble voting for it.
Joseph Neat, a 29-year-old registered Republican from Hagerstown, said he has gay friends and voted in favor of allowing them to marry in Maryland.
“Do what you want,” Neat said. “It’s not like as if it’s bothering me.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley had signed gay marriage into law in March, but opponents collected enough signatures to force a ballot referendum. The issue has never succeeded at the ballot box. Thirty-two states have held votes on same-sex marriage since 1998, and all 32 have opposed it. Maryland is one of four states with referendums on the issue Tuesday. The others are Maine, Washington and Minnesota.
O’Malley, who strongly supported the law, has said it protects the religious beliefs of clergymen who oppose same-sex union because they do not have to solemnize the marriages. It’s proved a tough sell among some black clergy and their congregations.
Some Maryland Catholics, though, said they voted for the ballot question, despite opposition from the church.
Mary Lintner, a 49-year old Democrat from College Park, said the provisions in the law that ensure religious leaders don’t have to solemnize the marriages made her more comfortable.
“Maybe I’m just a little laid back,” Lintner said. “I think everyone should just be happy.”
John Raffensparger Jr., 46, a registered Republican, said he voted against it because “it’s a sin against God.”
“It says right in the Bible, ‘Man shall not lie with man like he does with woman.’ That’s just my beliefs. I believe man and woman should be married, but I don’t believe a man and a man or a woman and a woman.”