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Maryland Marriage Equality Fundraiser In New York City Brings Out The Celebrities

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“I think we’re looking pretty strong, but the other side has yet to put on their onslaught of commercials and fear and division,” Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley told HuffPost Gay Voices at a star-studded New York fundraiser for the cause of marriage equality in Maryland, where a marriage equality bill the governor signed goes to the voters this fall. “Right now in the polling we're running about 53% and those that are opposed to marriage equality in Maryland are at around 38, 39%. So we need to shore that up and push the truth that no child’s home should be denied equal protection under the law.”

O’Malley joined comedian Sandra Bernhard, Susan Sarandon, Josh Charles of “The Good Wife,” Ed Norton, and filmmaker John Waters, as well as George W. Bush’s daughter Barbara and former Bush campaign manager and one-time RNC chair Ken Mehlman, on the rooftop of The James hotel in Soho, where attendees paid anywhere from $250 to $25,000 to help the cause of equality and mingle with the celebrity supporters. Maryland was seen just a few months ago as a tough state to win marriage equality at the ballot, where it has lost in over 30 states previously. But President Obama announcing his support for marriage equality appears to have changed the equation, and the fundraiser itself was evidence of that, as supporters realize they now have a good shot but need to raise money.

“I want to be the first state where we win!” exclaimed John Waters, just back from hitchhiking across the country for a new book, “Car Sick.”

“I’ve absolutely no possible desire to be married, because I have a lovely life as a single man -- and I never fall in love with rich people,” he quipped, adding, “I think there are straight gay people and radical gay people and outlaw gay people. I want to be an insider and an outlaw. I’m for everyone to be able to get married if they want to. I personally don’t want to because I have a nice life as a single man and I live in four cities. What would I want to be married for, and have to pay for someone else’s airfare?”

Many in the room were ecstatic that the Rev. Jesse Jackson had days earlier urged Maryland voters, in an interview with HuffPost Gay Voices, to support gay marriage in the state, where the large African-American community can have a major impact.

“I think it’s huge,” Governor O’ Malley said. “I believe there are people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds that are coming out in favor of this. In Maryland in particular, to have Rev. Jesse Jackson urge voters to vote in favor of this is consistent with his own life story. Look, we’re all in this together. And we’re people of many different faiths but we need to protect everyone equally under the law.”

The public campaigning for marriage equality by Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, which received much more attention in recent days, was also a topic of discussion by those in attendance who saw it as major boost for the campaign.

“In the last year alone we saw more allies [in the sports world] speak out than any time in history,” noted Hudson Taylor, the all-American wrestler and Columbia University coach, who, as a captain of his team at the University of Maryland, took on homophobia on campus. Taylor discussed the importance of straight male athletes like himself and Ayanbadejo speaking out for the cause.

“I think athletes are starting to realize [professional athletes] have a very important voice in this effort,” he said. “Athletes are seen not only as role models but as heroes. So if we can get them on board, it’s going to go a long way.”

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