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Maryland Equality Opponents Claim Pro-LGBT Canvassing Constitutes ‘Coarse Intimidation’

Despite successfully petitioning Maryland’s same-sex marriage law to the ballot, its opponents have been fairly quiet in their campaign to overturn marriage equality. This week, however, Maryland Marriage Alliance Chairman Derek McCoy made the unfounded claim that those in support of marriage equality are somehow trying “to intimidate people if they can’t win them fairly.”

MCCOY: On the people that actually signed the petition, they got the records from the Board of Elections. And in addition to Google mapping them out, they have actually started going to people’s addresses and having conversations with people at the address to tell them that they are haters. [They] knock on their door and try and intimidate them to go the other way and give them their long story about their personal saga about their life selection.

McCoy is describing the common practice of canvassing and just calling it “intimidation” for political purposes. Ballot campaigns go door to door to raise awareness about the issue, and one of the best ways to help people understand the importance of marriage equality is to simply let them hear about the life experiences of gay people. (Here’s an example of an Equality Maine canvasser having a conversation with a voter opposed to same-sex marriage.) As for the list of petition signers, that’s a public record, and it makes sense to reach out to people who have already established concern about same-sex marriage to better understand the motivations for their position and provide some education.

Rachael Stern, New Media Director at Marylanders for Marriage Equality, provided the following response to ThinkProgress, dismissing McCoy’s comments outright:

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STERN: The anti-gay movement has been trying to paint the LGBT community in negative terms for decades. While we’re out all over Maryland talking about love and lifelong commitment and basic fairness, Rev. McCoy is engaged in name calling.

If opponents of marriage equality had a case to make, they wouldn’t need create false narratives about how they’re supposedly being victimized.