Earlier this month, hundreds of Marylanders poured into the state’s senate office building as the state’s Judicial Proceedings Committee heard arguments from proponents for marriage equality and those who oppose marriage for all Americans. While most where there only to show their support, “roughly 150 signed up to testify, prompting committee Chairman Brian Frosh to limit statements to three minutes,” according to The Baltimore Sun. People shared moving stories of their love and commitment, even Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Maryland’s only openly gay member, shared what having marriage in his home state means to him and his partner of 10 years.
But perhaps one of the most compelling appeals for marriage for the state came last Friday from straight ally Julian Bond, chairman emeritus of the NAACP National Board of Directors. Bond, who has been an LGBT supporter for years, wrote in The Baltimore Sun:
As a civil right activist, I have spent my life fighting to make ours a more just and fair society. That’s why I urge the Maryland General Assembly to support marriage equality and pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. I firmly believe that this is a matter of civil rights, equal protection and equality. Civil rights are positive legal prerogatives – the right to equal treatment before the law. These are rights shared by everyone; there is no one in the United States who does not – or should not – share in enjoying these rights. Discrimination is wrong no matter who the victim is. We cannot move toward full human rights protection and opportunity without confronting – and ending – homophobia. For it is homophobia that is at the root of denying the freedom to marry to gays and lesbians. As my late neighbor and friend, Coretta Scott King, said in 1998:
“Homophobia is like racism and anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry in that it seeks to dehumanize a large group of people, to deny their humanity, their dignity and personhood.”
And in 2000 she added:
“We have a lot more work to do in our common struggle against bigotry and discrimination. I say ‘common struggle’ because I believe very strongly that all forms of bigotry and discrimination are equally wrong and should be opposed by right-thinking Americans everywhere. Freedom from discrimination based on sexual orientation is surely a fundamental human right in any great democracy, as much as freedom from racial, religious, gender or ethnic discrimination.”
But Bond didn’t stop there. He also highlighted the important aspects of family and “marriage strengthens communities.”
Bonds’ editorial is extremely timely the Maryland legislature is expected to vote on the issue as soon as this week.
GLAAD commends Bond and the countless other Maryland allies who are speaking out about the importance of making marriage possible for loving and committed couples.