Advocates of marriage equality in Maryland are touting a new poll that indicates a majority of voters -- 52 percent -- are supportive of the recently-passed marriage equality bill signed into law by Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on Mar. 1.
The poll of 600 voters, which was conducted by Public Policy Polling on behalf of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality coalition from Mar. 5-7, asked, "The state legislature recently approved a law allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry in Maryland, and there is likely to be a statewide referendum in the November election on whether to keep the law. If the election were held today, do you think you would vote for or vote against the recently-approved law allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry?"
According to the poll results, 52 percent of voters would vote to uphold the law via referendum, while 44 percent would vote to overturn it. The poll's margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.
"This is good news for thousands of families and their children all over the state," Penny Nicholas, a straight African-American mother who testified in support of the law, along with members of the Marylanders for Marriage Equality campaign, before the legislature last month, said in a statement about the poll. "A majority of voters realize that committed, loving gay and lesbian couples want the best for their children –- which means making sure their kids are treated equally under the law."
The results foreshadow what both proponents and opponents of marriage equality have been predicting for a while: a long, expensive, closely-decided race where both sides are expected to spend millions of dollars arguing their stance on marriage equality. Opponents, including the Maryland Marriage Alliance, the chief organization seeking to overturn the law, have vowed to collect more than the 55,736 signatures required to force the referendum onto the November ballot.
Maryland is currently one of eight states, plus the District, that allow marriage equality under the law. But opponents point out that voters in 31 states have either approved constitutional bans on same-sex marriage or have overturned existing marriage equality laws, as California voters did in 2008 and Maine voters did in 2009.