The effort to approve marriage equality got a big boost last week when the Baltimore Sun poll showed 49 percent of Marylanders supported making same-sex marriage legal. But the even bigger news was in the level of African American support for Question 6.

According to the Sun, “there's been a dramatic shift in the attitudes of black voters.” The paper found that “more than half of likely black voters favor legalizing same-sex marriage, compared with a quarter who are opposed.” This is huge in a state where black voters are thought to be a quarter of all Maryland voters.

No doubt President Obama’s evolution on the issue of marriage equality helped move hearts and minds in the state where he enjoys a 57 percent approval rating, according to that Sun poll. But there are other African Americans voicing their support for the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

The NAACP of Maryland released a radio ad yesterday featuring Julian Bond, civil rights icon and chairman emeritus of the national NAACP.
“I believe people of faith understand this isn’t about any one religious belief – it’s about protecting the civil right to make a lifelong commitment to the person you love,” Bond says.

The Rev. Dr. Delman Coates, of the Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, Md., and the Rev. Dr. Donte Hickman, pastor of Southern Baptist Church in Baltimore, released separate ads with the same message.

As a Pastor, my support for Question Six is rooted in my belief that the government should treat everyone equally.

I would not want someone denying my rights based upon their religious views, therefore I should not deny others based upon mine.

It’s about fairness.

This law does not force any church to perform a same sex marriage if it’s against their beliefs.

And that’s what this is about.

Protecting religious freedom and protecting all Marylanders equally under the law.

Join me in voting for Question 6.

Exactly. It’s about fairness.

That three leaders in the African American community are lending their voices, their stature and their credibility to push for approval of Question 6 is inspiring. Bond is not new to this fight. But for Coates and Hickman, this is a show of true leadership. If the measure passes, all three of these men will have been on the right side of history — and will deserve a state’s thanks.