A central message of those leading the campaign against Maryland's same-sex marriage law is that they are not opposed to gays and lesbians or to ensuring their civil rights. But that contention is undermined by the video of a town hall meeting at Manna Bible Baptist Church in Baltimore in which a Randallstown pastor quoted Scripture to say that homosexuality or even condoning homosexuality is "worthy of death." He went on to say that those who vote for Question 6 are "approving these things that are worthy of death."
And that's not all. The minister, Robert J. Anderson of Colonial Baptist Church, said same-sex marriage is the first step toward legalizing prostitution, bestiality, polygamy and incest.
On Thursday, Derek McCoy, the chairman of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, the group spearheading the opposition to Question 6, issued a statement in response to the video, saying, "Throughout this campaign, we have been clear that all people are worthy of dignity and respect and that tolerance and acceptance of gay and lesbian friends and family does not mean that marriage should be redefined. ... Supporting traditional marriage does not make anyone anti-gay."
The trouble is, Mr. McCoy was sitting directly next to Mr. Anderson during his speech. When Mr. Anderson said, "It is not fair to open up a back door that will legalize prostitution," Mr. McCoy muttered approvingly, "How about that, how about that?" When he said, "It is not fair that we open up a back door that will possibly legalize bestiality," Mr. McCoy said, "Sure, sure." When he said, "Those who practice such things are deserving of death," Mr. McCoy lifted his head and solemnly nodded.
In his statement, Mr. McCoy took pains to object to any who would accuse Mr. Anderson of inciting violence against gays or those who support Question 6. Indeed, that surely must not have been his intent. But his belief that not just gay marriage but homosexuality in general is an "abomination" was clear.
Most Marylanders would not agree, including those who are undecided on Question 6. Most Marylanders would have no trouble drawing a line between same-sex marriage and bestiality or incest. Most Marylanders would see no connection between state recognition of the lifelong commitment of two adults and prostitution. And certainly, most Marylanders would not agree that gays are "worthy of death" — even metaphorically.
Instead, most Marylanders know that gays and lesbians are no different from anyone else in almost every respect. That they contribute to society just like anyone else, fall in love like anyone else, and yearn for comfort and stability like anyone else. Most Marylanders long ago concluded that gays and lesbians should not face discrimination.
Certainly, not all of those who oppose Question 6 would agree with Mr. Anderson, and not all would sit and nod at such nonsense like Mr. McCoy did. But the dissonance between that scene and what the Maryland Marriage Alliance says about its belief in tolerance ought to give Maryland voters pause. Those who are trying to decide how to vote on Question 6 should ask whether they believe that marriage equality would lead to legalized bestiality and prostitution. If not, why should they believe all of the other supposedly dire consequences the anti-Question 6 campaign predicts?
Instead, they should consider this question: Do they believe that gays and lesbians deserve to be treated equally under the law? If so, there can only be one answer on Question 6.