Rev. Jesse Jackson is campaigning in Maryland in support of a November ballot measure that would make it legal for same-sex couples in the state to get married.
'The culture has had to expand,' Jackson tells SiriusXM OutQ.
Jackson, a longtime civil rights leader and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988, compared the fight for LGBT equality to past battles for black equality in the US.
'For so long we thought it was a sin for blacks to have freedom,' Jackson said. '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.'
In March, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley signed a bill making Maryland the eighth US state to approve same sex marriage. But opponents were successful in forcing a referendum before the law is due to go into effect (1 January, 2013). Approximately 56,000 signatures are required for a law to be put to a ballot vote. Maryland Marriage Alliance submitted 162,224 signatures - a state record for referendums.
'I would hope that people would respect people’s basic fundamental rights,' Jackson said. 'If you don’t believe in it, don’t engage in it. But don’t deny other people their basic civil rights.'