Longtime national civil rights leader Julian Bond is the latest face of a campaign to build support for same-sex marriage in Maryland.
“As chairman emeritus of the NAACP, I know a little something about fighting for what’s right and just,” Bond says in a new Web video produced by Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “Gay and lesbian couples in Maryland have the same values as everyone else: love, commitment and stable families. They should have the same right to marry as the rest of us.”
Bond, a District resident, is hardly new to the cause. During consideration of a same-sex marriage bill during this year’s session of the Maryland General Assembly, he penned an op-ed piece for The Baltimore Sun in which he asserted that “discrimination is wrong no matter who the victim is.”
Bond has also been a strong advocate of gay nuptials nationally.
His appearance in the Maryland video campaign underscores both the challenges and potential opportunities for advocates as they gear up for another fight in Annapolis when lawmakers reconvene in January.
During the past session, same-sex marriage legislation cleared the Senate but fell short in the House of Delegates. Some of the more notable opposition came from African-American delegates in Prince George’s County, who cited resistance from churches in their districts.
A recent poll also showed that support for same-sex marriage among black voters statewide lags that of Maryland as a whole.
Voters statewide were almost nearly divided when asked about legalization of same-sex marriage in late September by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, with 48 percent expressing support and 49 percent saying they are opposed.
Among African American voters, 41 percent voiced support in the poll, and 59 percent said they were opposed.
Bond is considered a legend in the civil rights movement.
During the early 1960s, he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Bond was the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center. He served 20 years in the Georgia legislature. And he was chairman of the NAACP from 1998 to 2010.
Bond is the fourth public figure to appear in the Maryland video campaign, which was kicked off by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who has pledged to sponsor the bill next year. Others who have appeared: Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo and Oscar-award winning actress Mo’Nique, a Baltimore-area native.
Regarding Bond’s video, Sultan Shakir, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality said: “We are grateful such an icon has lent his voice to the campaign at a time when momentum builds for marriage equality in the Free State.”