Just as Maryland legislators are expected to debate a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage, a new poll suggests that Maryland voters believe that marriage “should only be between a man and a woman,” and that a “supermajority” believe the issue should be decided by voters.
According to the Lawrence Research poll released Feb. 17, approximately 54 percent of Maryland voters support the traditional definition of marriage, while only 37 percent supported same-sex “marriage.”
But the poll has it skeptics, in large part because the Lawrence Research poll was not an independent study — it was commissioned by Brown and the National Organization for Marriage.
In fact, the Lawrence poll differs sharply from an independent study conducted in January by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. of Annapolis. That poll suggested the opposite, that Maryland voters favor marriage equality by a 51-44 margin.
In the Gonzales poll, 802 “registered voters who vote regularly” were asked, “Would you favor or oppose a law in Maryland allowing same-sex couples to marry, giving them the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples in areas such as tax exemptions, inheritance and pension coverage?”
But in the NOM-funded poll, 600 “self-identified” voters were contacted by random digit dialing and asked, “As far as you personally are concerned, should marriage be between a
man and a woman, or should it also be available to same-sex couples?”
The NOM poll also asked, “As far as you are concerned, is this an issue that should be decided by the state legislature, or is this something that should be decided by the voters?”
Of course, ask the question that way, voters will always say they should decide.
The Lawrence study was conducted by Dr. Gary Lawrence, a Mormon Bishop who conducted similar research in California for the “Yes On 8” campaign. Lawrence, who claims he has 43 years of experience as a pollster, obtained his doctorate and formal training in Communications Psychology, not in polling or statistics analysis.
And, “Lawrence Research” does not even maintain a website (lawrenceresearch.com, as indicated on an NOM press release, resolves to a parked internet domain page) — odd for a “national pollster” that claims over four decades of experience.
The Gonzales group — who conducted the poll on its own, not hired by one side or another — does maintain a website detailing their credentials, client lists, case studies, and details on the polls it has conducted at both the local and national level — essentially, everything you’d expect from a reputable pollster.
So which poll do you believe? Compare the results:
Legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in Maryland was approved Thursday by the state’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, advancing the bill to the Senate floor for debate and a vote as early as next week.