Baltimoreans were loud and clear from the polling booths Nov. 6, endorsing same sex marriage, casino gambling, higher education benefits at in-state tuition rates for immigrant children, and the redrawing of congressional districts in the state.
Baltimore voters approved the same-sex marriage question in a 126,244 to 94,666-vote, cleared casino gambling in a 119,059 to 106,970-vote, endorsed the DREAM Act ballot initiative in 154,088 to 64,927-vote and agreed 148,620 to 55,288 to redraw the state’s congressional district boundaries.
“I’m without words and it’s long overdue,” said Rev. Kinji Scott, pastor of My Father’s House Ministries in Baltimore, of the outcome on the same-sex ballot question. “It’s not about religion- it’s about equality and I was glad that the people were able to see beyond the church walls because it was the moral thing to do.”
Scott, 42, is an openly gay member of the Baltimore faith community, and said that he expects the passage of same-sex marriage to go a long way in cutting down homophobia among African Americans.
“There are so many of us who are hiding, being compressed, and pushed into the closet- what happened yesterday released us and brought us out of a prison of fear,” said Scott. “It shows that people are going to love you, embrace you, and accept you for you.”
The role of gambling in the state of Maryland was another popular topic of conversation among many voters hashing out their views while waiting to cast a ballot. The referendum passed as the tally of votes soared past the one million mark.
“For the state, this means there will be more jobs, more revenue for the state to help fund things like education and help with the infrastructure of roads,” said Barry Hudson, manager of communication for Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker.
“It’s an important step for the state from an economic prospective. It’ll make the state more competitive as well.”
Hudson said the addition of table gaming to three casinos already up and running, and the other three set to come on line will create 1,500 new jobs and increase revenue by the millions.
Frank M. Booker, 76, was skeptical about the good gambling will do for his hometown. “The house man always makes the money,” he said, adding that state officials “lie” when they say a significant amount of people will get jobs from the deal. “It’s not going to work that way - everybody gambles, and there’s not enough money to go around.”
“We rejoice and give praise that Marylanders put into flesh the most repeated commandment in the Bible, ‘To love the stranger as thyself,’” said Bishop Douglas Miles, chair of Maryland Industrial Areas Foundation (MD-IAF) in a statement about the DREAM Act approval.
“Most importantly, we rejoice and give praise that all our youth, whether they were born in Liberia, El Salvador, Jamaica or France, youth who live here now, and have graduated from our Maryland schools, will have equal opportunity to pay in-state tuition rates and pursue their dreams.”
To be eligible for DREAM Act benefits, immigrants must have entered the country before they turn 16 years old and have no felony convictions. Completion of two years of college or military service is required in order to qualify for the provisions of the DREAM Act.
Baltimore voters also agreed to loans to improve local schools, parks, the Baltimore Zoo, The Walters Art Museum, and the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Maryland State Election results
Barack Obama 1,529,084 61.5%
Benjamin Cardin 1,336,886 55.2%
House of Representatives
John Sarbanes 196,164 66.5%
Donna Edwards 220,390 76%
Elijah Cummings 227,877 76.3%