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Republicans, Hate Group Desperately Working To Derail Marriage Equality In Maryland

February 28, 2011 5:27 pm ET by Carlos Maza

Maryland's marriage equality bill faces a serious risk of being derailed by a coalition of House Republicans and a notorious anti-gay hate group who are relying on propaganda to stir up fears about the "indoctrination" of children.

Last Thursday, the bill narrowly passed the state senate, which is considered to be the more conservative of the two chambers. Republicans in the House, however, have put up a fierce fight and HB 175 reportedly remains just short of the 71 votes needed for passage. Now, advocates of marriage equality are in danger of being defeated by a number of propaganda-pushing Republicans.

"There's an effort to derail this bill like none I've ever seen before," said State Senator Richard Madaleno (D-Montgomery County). Fears about a potential loss of support prompted proponents of the bill to expedite the vote, which was originally slated for late April. Marriage equality proponents are urging Maryland residents to contact their delegates and ask them to support equality for all.

Opposition to the bill has been so strong that one of its original and longtime co-sponsors, Delegate Melvin Stukes (D-Baltimore City), withdrew his sponsorship, claiming he thought the bill would only allow for civil-unions.

Leading the charge against marriage equality is Don Dwyer (R-Glen Burnie), who has called himself "the face of the opposition." Dwyer has relied heavily on propaganda from an anti-gay hate group to advance his agenda. Last Wednesday, Dwyer sent the following email to local churches and community members:

This is Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer, Jr.

I have been fighting for many years now to keep marriage between a man and a woman as the Creator God intended.
We are about to redefine the term "marriage" to include same sex marriages. Please open, print and read the attached files regarding Same Sex Marriage


For more information on the educational agenda please click these links. Montgomery County Maryland is currently teaching homosexuality in their schools.


In His Service,
Delegate Don Dwyer, Jr

[AMERICAblog, 2/25/11]

The group Dwyer directs his audience to at the end of this email is the website of the anti-gay group MassResistance, which has become notorious for denying that gays and lesbians were a target of the Holocaust and comparing the gay rights movement to the Nazis. Even conservative commentator Dean Barnett has stated that the organization "verges on being a hate group." In fact, the group was labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for "their propagation of known falsehoods — claims about LGBT people that have been thoroughly discredited by scientific authorities — and repeated, groundless name-calling."

Dwyer's email contains several attachments. The first is a letter to local church leaders asking them to oppose the marriage equality bill:

This issue is not about rights and benefits for loving couples, It is about the indoctrination of our children, grandchildren and future generations to come.  Please review the attached information regarding what is being taught in public schools in Massachusetts since the legalization of same sex marriage in 2004. [Dwyer Email, 2/23/11, emphasis added]

The email's second attachment was a document produced by Brian Camenker, the head of MassResistance.

The document, entitled "What same-sex 'marriage' has done to Massachusetts," contains a number of misleading or outright fabricated horror stories the effect of marriage equality in Massachusetts: children being indoctrinated by their school teachers, parents being arrested for trying to protect their children, rising rates of HIV infections, etc.

The document, of course, lacks a single shred of evidence to support any of its claims, several of which have already been debunked by independent sources. 

Dwyer also attached a copy of copy of a pamphlet produced by the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts (AAC) in an effort to educate young gay men who may be coming to terms with their sexuality. Dwyer claims the pamphlet was distributed to hundreds of teenagers at a GLSEN event, a myth that has also already been debunked.

Dwyer's reliance on materials produced by an anti-gay hate group is more than just an anomaly; it has become the basis for his public effort to kill marriage equality. During a press conference last Friday, Dwyer repeated the Mass Resistance-pushed lie that "homosexuality will be taught at some level to children attending public schools as has been ordered by the court in various states."

The Maryland Republican party is following suit, blanketing the state with robocalls to gin up fears about the House bill.

Now is not the time for complacency. Although a plurality of Maryland's voters supports marriage equality, it's not clear that the opportunity to pass a same-sex marriage bill will present itself again for a long time.   

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