HAGERSTOWN — In an event coordinated to rival Gov. Martin O’Malley’s visit to Hagerstown, 11 people rallied in the wind and rain Monday to urge people to sign a petition that would give Maryland voters the chance to vote on same-sex marriage and other recently passed pieces of legislation.
The rally started at 12:45 p.m. and lasted a little more than an hour at the park-and-ride near the Motor Vehicle Administration off Md. 65 south of Hagerstown. At the same time, O’Malley was a few hundred yards away attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Maryland State Police barrack.
Del. Neil Parrott, R-Washington, who helped organize the rally and attended the ceremony at the barrack, said the rally was held to inform people that they can sign an online petition at https://MDPetitions.com.
By signing the petition, he said, registered voters could help put the issues of same-sex marriage and the redrawing of congressional election districts on the ballot in November. A third issue, in-state tuition for illegal immigrants, already will be on the ballot.
“We can give the power back to the people so we can vote on (same-sex) marriage,” Parrott said at the rally after O’Malley’s motorcade left the area. “We can vote on congressional redistricting so it doesn’t divide the state. If you look at the congressional redistricting map, it’s really one of the worst maps in the whole country.”
Until last year, the 6th District included parts or all of Washington, Frederick, Allegany, Garrett, Carroll, Montgomery, Harford and Baltimore counties.
The redistricting approved by the Maryland General Assembly removed Carroll, Harford and Baltimore counties from the district, as well as part of Frederick County.
The new district includes much more of Montgomery County.
As a result, the voting enrollment in the 6th District switched from about 47 percent Republican and 36 percent Democrat to about 44 percent Democrat and 34 percent Republican.
Earlier this year, the General Assembly made same-sex marriage legal in Maryland, starting Jan. 1, 2013. In 2011, the General Assembly passed legislation allowing illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at universities.
People who attended the rally stood on the shoulder of the road near the park-and-ride and held signs that said, “O’Malley stop dividing us,” “No in-state tuition for illegal immigrants,” and “Support my right to vote.”
A few of the passing motorists beeped their horns to show support, while a few others waved. One man made an obscene gesture toward the rally attendees.
Jeffrey Isbell, petition manager at MDPetitions.com, said volunteers already have collected the required signatures to get the in-state tuition issue on the ballot.
Since then, they have turned their attention to the redistricting and same-sex marriage legislation. Isbell said he was confident the organization would get the 55,000 signatures needed by June to get those issues on the ballot.
“We haven’t counted (the signatures) yet, but we’re doing well,” he said. “We will submit many more than 55,000 to prevent the opposition from mounting a challenge. They will mount a challenge, but we hope to have 100,000.”
Rally attendee Stephanie Cooper said the rally was about letting O’Malley, a Democrat, know that people from all parties are unhappy.
“My thing is really to just let people vote,” she said. “A few legislators in Maryland shouldn’t make decisions for the entire state.”