The Rev. Jesse Jackson is encouraging voter support in Maryland for a ballot measure this fall that would give marriage equality to gays and lesbians in the state. Governor Martin O'Malley signed a marriage equality bill, passed by the legislature, but it's up to voters to push it through in November. "The culture has had to expand," Jackson said last week during an interview at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. "For so long we thought it was a sin for Blacks to have freedom. We thought it was a sin for Black and White men and women to interrelate. We've grown in our appreciation of the fact that we live in our faith, and our faith may live under the law. All citizens deserve constitutional protections. You know, you have a right not to agree with interracial marriage, but no one should be denied rights under the law."
Jackson believes that the African American community could change the tides; having a major influence in Maryland. In a separate interview at the DNC, Jackson also said that he would perform a same-sex wedding ceremony if a gay or lesbian couple asked him to do so. His rhetoric to appeal to Maryland voters comes in the midst of his own son's health woes, yet Jackson believes that "people would respect people's basic fundamental rights." "They [voters] should not vote [against people's civil rights]," Jackson said. "I remember in 1964, the deal breaker the was, 'Should we have the right of public accommodation [for Blacks]?' At that time race was the deal breaker, but we've overcome that."