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Organized Labor Pushes For Marriage Equality In 2012

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Supporters of same-sex marriage in Maryland have a new ally, and it’s potentially a powerful one.

Alex DeMetrick reports organized labor says it will do whatever it can to get same-sex marriage passed into law.

When same-sex marriage was legalized last year in New York, supporters in Maryland felt more than ever it could happen here.

Now big time labor thinks the same, and Thursday in Baltimore, the AFL-CIO announced it would fight for it.

“And we expect the full support of all of our affiliates to make sure it becomes law in the state of Maryland,” said Fred Mason, president of Maryland-DC AFL-CIO.

That support will put pressure on state legislators in the upcoming session. But it is already driving a wedge into some, who normally back union issues.

“I’m very disappointed.  I’ve supported the AFL-CIO every step of the way, and I will continue to do so, except on this issue,” said Del. Emmett Burns, (D)-10th District.

Strong opposition is a given, but labor’s backing is generating optimism same-sex marriage could become law.

“I really think it demonstrates the mainstream support that’s out there for marriage equality and also the momentum we have to pass marriage equality in 2012,” said Sultan Shakir, Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

Organized labor enters what is sure to be a political fight in Annapolis. And in a number of Maryland homes, the outcome couldn’t be more personal.

“I am in a relationship.  We have children. We both go to work, and she wants to have the same rights to take care of my daughter like I would want to take care of hers,” said Laquona Surgeon, Marriage Equality supporter.

“We will defeat this bill in the House, and if not, certainly in referendum,” Burns said.

Meaning even with big labor’s support, same-sex wedding invitations in Maryland remain on hold.

When the legislative session opens later this month, Governor O’Malley will introduce a same-sex marriage bill for debate and a vote.

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