New Poll on Md. Marriage Equality Shows Close Divide, With Large Number of No Opinion, Undecideds

Another day, another poll showing Marylanders divided over the issue of marriage equality.

With the state’s recently passed marriage equality law likely headed to referendum on the November ballot, opponents of marriage equality are touting a new poll by the independent firm OpinionWorks and reported by The Washington Post showing that 43 percent of registered voters in Maryland would vote to make same-sex marriage illegal, while 40 percent would vote to make it legal.

That same poll shows 11 percent of voters have no opinion or are not going to vote in November’s election, and 5 percent are planning to vote but are not sure of how they are going to vote.

The poll contradicts other poll findings that also show Marylanders closely divided, but give the edge to marriage equality supporters. A Washington Post poll from January of 1,064 Maryland adults found that 50 percent of Maryland adults supported marriage equality, compared to 44 percent who opposed it. 

Similarly, a March poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling, that asked 600 Maryland voters about a possible referendum, found that 52 percent of voters would vote to uphold the marriage equality law, while 44 percent would vote to overturn it.

The referendum measure, which will ask voters if they want to approve or reject the marriage equality law, will appear on the November ballot along with the presidential election, Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) re-election, and a measure to repeal a state version of the DREAM Act that extends college tuition breaks to undocumented immigrants who graduate from state high schools, provide tax returns going back five years and complete two years of higher education or military service.

Due to the confluence of those events, Maryland’s Attorney General, Doug Gansler (D), warned marriage equality supporters as early as October of last year that they would face a tough fight to keep the law in place, due to expected high turnout of African-Americans, Catholics and registered Republicans — who each make up anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of the population. High-profile ministers and community leaders from each of those groups have vocally opposed the law as they try to marshal their followers to overturn it at the ballot box.

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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