BALTIMORE — A majority of Maryland voters approve of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples, according to a statewide poll released Thursday.
The poll, conducted July 24-28 by the Hart Research firm on behalf of the advocacy group Marylanders for Marriage Equality, showed that the state’s voters approve of marriage for same-sex couples by a 14-point margin — 54 percent in favor, 40 percent opposed.
“We continue to have the momentum,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “Voters are having conversations on marriage around the dinner table and are agreeing that people should be treated fairly.”
A Public Policy Polling survey conducted in May — just weeks after President Barack Obama’s announcement of his support of same-sex marriage — showed results detailing a 57 to 37 split in favor of same-sex marriage.
African-American voters, the survey noted, are virtually evenly split between supporters (44 percent) and opponents (45 percent), a shift from just few months ago when opponents were up by nine points. The change is largely due to increased discussion of marriage equality following the endorsement of the issue by President Obama and the NAACP.
In the past, that split was much less with significant opposition in the legislative battle for same-sex marriage coming from some of the state’s influential black religious leaders.
“We’re winning over undecideds and the intensity is clearly on our side,” said Levin. “Voters are realizing that this law is about treating our gay friends, family, and neighbors equally under the law, and that no religious institution would be forced to marry anyone they objected to.”
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), told The New York Times on Tuesday that he expected Marylanders would indeed validate the new law, which he not only signed but campaigned vigorously for.
“I believe that the people of our state are supportive of protecting religious freedom and human dignity and protecting every child’s home equally under the law,” O’Malley said.
Kevin Nix, a marriage equality activist for the Human Rights Campaign, told LGBTQ Nation that he is “cautiously optimistic” about the fate of the outcome of the vote in November on the ballot referendum in Maryland. [The latest poll] “is yet another indication of our momentum, particularly among African-American voters.”