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Poll: Majority of black Marylanders back same-sex marriage

A new poll indicates that a majority of black Marylanders would vote for the state’s same-sex marriage law in the likely November referendum.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

26th May 2012 00:43

Alessia Valenza | ILGA North America

The Public Policy Polling survey found that 55 percent of the state’s African Americans would vote for the law, compared to 36 percent who said they would oppose it. PPP pollster Tom Jensen noted that support for the statute among black Marylanders has increased nearly 20 percent since March.

The poll further noted that 57 percent of Maryland voters would support the law if the referendum makes the ballot. A previous PPP survey commissioned by Marylanders for Marriage Equality in March found that 52 percent of state voters would back the same-sex marriage law.

“Things are moving in Maryland,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “We’re approaching a supermajority who want to uphold the state’s new marriage law. The message of stronger families and basic fairness is resonating, and we’re confident Maryland will be the first state to win a ballot measure on marriage.”

This poll comes less than a week after the National Association for the Advancement of Colored Persons, which is headquartered in Baltimore, endorsed marriage rights for same-sex couples during its National Board of Directors’ quarterly meeting in Miami. This announcement came less than two weeks after President Barack Obama publicly backed the issue during an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts.

An ABC News/Washington Post poll on Wednesday indicated that the president’s support of marriage rights for same-sex couples has already had a significant impact on public opinion among African Americans on the issue—59 percent of black respondents said they support nuptials for gays and lesbians. This figure is an 18-point increase from polls that had been taken before Obama publicly backed the issue.

“The president’s backing of marriage equality has added to our momentum– and his being on the November ballot also helps us,” said Levin. “Younger voters, who are overwhelmingly supportive, are much more likely to turn out in a presidential year.”

Bishop Harry Jackson of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville is among those who continue to oppose the same-sex marriage law that Gov. Martin O’Malley signed in March.

“I am encouraged by this polling data that shows that while Maryland was the eighth state to pass marriage equality, if all those votes were cast today, Maryland would become the first state to protect the freedom to marry at the ballot box,” Del. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore City) told the Blade.
She added that the passage of the state constitutional amendment that defined marriage as between a man and a woman in North Carolina earlier this month proved that referendum opponents must not let their guard down.

“The sad story of North Carolina is that the flood of resources in terms of money and people from across the country came too late,” said Washington. “We must remember that the opposition is seeing the same number and so it is critical that we secure early and ongoing support from Marylanders and all those from across the country who would share in this victory in November.”

O’Malley spokesperson Raquel Guillory shared a similar view.

“There is still more work that needs to be done,” she told the Blade. “We never take anything for granted but these numbers clearly show that momentum is growing and more Marylanders support marriage equality and religious freedom.”