Next month, Maryland voters will decide whether the state will begin issuing civil marriage licenses to same-sex couples who wish to marry.
Polling to date shows the “yes” side on Question 6– the ballot measure by which this action would be approved– performing better than the “no” side, largely thanks to Democratic and Independent support.
However, as coverage of Question 6 has increased, so has attention to Republicans and conservatives supporting the measure.
In moderate Republican quarters, support for state recognition of same-sex marriage has generally proved far less controversial than in more conservative circles. Yet with gay conservatives increasingly becoming comfortable with coming out to their family, friends and political allies, more self-described conservative supporters of same-sex marriage are making themselves known.
The Gazette profiles two such individuals: Former adviser to Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a Maryland Republican, Chrysovalantis Kefalas, and former head of the Maryland College Republicans, Michael Esteve. Both are a “yes” vote on Question 6.
Kefalas, who says he was raised in a conservative and religious environment, notes that after coming out:
Former colleagues rallied to his support and his family, always a close-knit, extended group, eventually did as well.
“I now feel incredibly embraced and supported,” he said.
Kefalas said he still considers himself a religious man and a conservative Republican, although he bucks his party’s platform by supporting same-sex marriage.
Esteve, for his part, notes that his sexual orientation was not considered a big deal by his more moderate mother– but in the wake of him and an ex-boyfriend coming out, even his ex-boyfriend’s evangelical parents emerged as same-sex marriage supporters:
“A year and a half later not only are they totally accepting of their son and were accepting of me when we were together, they are proudly supporting us in supporting marriage equality,” he said.
Esteve believes that Republican attitudes towards same-sex marriage are changing.
In the case of Maryland Question 6, should it pass, the result will largely (and fairly) be attributed to other attitudinal shifts, including among African-American voters, many of whom polling suggests have changed their stance on same-sex marriage at least within Maryland itself.
However, Republicans and conservatives softening on same-sex marriage or indeed taking a pro-same-sex marriage stance like Kefalas, Esteve, and the evangelical family Esteve describes, may also contribute to it being harder to block same-sex marriage initiatives by rallying Republican and conservative votes.
A late September Baltimore Sun poll showed 26 percent of Republicans planning to vote “yes” on Question 6.