Supporters of same-sex marriage in Maryland are touting the support of Bob Ross, the president of the Prince George’s County branch of the NAACP.
Ross appears in a new Web ad posted Tuesday by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the group leading the campaign to uphold the state’s new law on the November ballot.
“Question 6 gives gays and lesbians the right to obtain a marriage license,” Ross says in the Web video. “It doesn’t force the church, clergy, or anyone to marry them. It is the fair thing to do for all citizens in the state of Maryland.”
The pro-marriage group has cast Ross’s support as part of growing momentum among African-Americans, a key demographic in the fall election. Support for gay nuptials among black voters has lagged that of white voters, though recent polls have suggested some movement. Prince George’s is a majority-black county.
Maryland’s same-sex marriage law was petitioned to the ballot soon after it was signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in March, with African-American churches mobilizing to contribute a sizable number of the required signatures.
Amid their efforts, President Obama and the national NAACP endorsed same-sex marriage. In Maryland, the coalition pushing to uphold the law includes the statewide NAACP and its Baltimore branch.
“I’m so proud to see the momentum for civil marriage in the African-American community growing as we head into November,” Fred Mason, the president of the AFL-CIO in Maryland, which is also supporting the campaign, said in a statement regarding Ross’s announcement.
On Friday, African-American clergy from around the country, including the Rev. Al Sharpton, are planning a news conference in Washington showcasing their support for Question 6.