A new Public Policy Poll shows that 57% of Maryland voters would vote to uphold the state's new marriage equality law in a likely referendum this fall, with 55% of African-Americans expressing support.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition working to pass the referendum, released the poll results Thursday morning. The poll shows a 12-point increase from March in the number of voters who would vote yes, where an affirmative vote would uphold the new marriage equality law. In the latest survey, 57% of Maryland voters said they supported the law, and 37% opposed it. Those numbers represent the strongest support and lowest opposition documented to date in Maryland, and exceed the 53% of Americans who approved of same-sex marriage in a Washington Post-ABC News poll this week.
"Things are moving in Maryland," said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, in a news release. "We're approaching a supermajority who want to uphold the state's new marriage law. The message of stronger families and greater fairness is resonating, and we're confident Maryland will be the first state to win a ballot measure on marriage equality and religious freedom."
African-American voters represent about one third of the population in Maryland, which makes their increasing support especially noteworthy. PPP pollster Tom Jensen said there has been a "major shift in opinion" among African-American voters, who now support the marriage equality law by 55% to 36%. The numbers have essentially flipped since March, and come on the heels of announcements this month from President Barack Obama and the NAACP in support of marriage equality.
"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."
The poll found that an overwhelming majority of Obama voters support marriage equality, while almost a third of Romney voters expressed support.
State lawmakers passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act earlier this year and Gov. Martin O'Malley promptly signed the legislation. However, the law is not scheduled to take effect until January, pending the outcome of the anticipated referendum.
The Baltimore Sun reports that opponents of the new law face a deadline next week to submit an initial batch of signatures to qualify the referendum for the November ballot. They have expressed optimism that they will be able to bring the issue to voters.