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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 25, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 21
Maryland poll finds African Americans support marriage equality
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Maryland poll finds African Americans support marriage equality

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A new poll released May 24 indicates that if Maryland's new marriage equality law goes to the ballot in November, voters will approve it by a 20-point margin.

But perhaps even more encouraging for advocates of equal marriage rights, the state's African-American voters now support marriage equality by a 19-point margin - a shift of 36 points in just two months.

Maryland's legislature passed a marriage equality law in February and Gov. Martin O'Malley signed it on March 1, but it is being challenged by a petition campaign just as Washington's new law is. If opponents of equal rights gather enough signatures, the measure will go on the November ballot.

Public Policy Polling (PPP) surveyed 852 likely voters, including an oversample of 398 African Americans, on behalf of Marylanders for Marriage Equality between May 14 and May 21.

Fifty-seven percent of the respondents said they were likely to vote to keep the state's new marriage law, compared to only 37% who said they would reject it.

An identical PPP survey in March showed a much closer margin of victory for marriage equality. That poll found 52% in favor and 44% opposed.

According to PPP Director Tom Jensen, 'The movement over the last two months can be explained almost entirely by a major shift in opinion about same-sex marriage among black voters.

'Previously, 56% [of blacks] said they would vote against the new law with only 39% planning to uphold it. Those numbers have now almost completely flipped, with 55% of African Americans planning to vote for the law and only 36% now opposed.'

Jensen noted that the shift in attitudes toward same-sex marriage among African-American voters in Maryland reflects a national trend.

In an ABC/Washington Post poll conducted earlier this week, 59% of African Americans across the country expressed support for marriage equality.

A PPP poll conducted last weekend in the critical swing state of Pennsylvania found a shift of 19 points in favor of same-sex marriage among African-American voters.

President Obama announced his support for marriage equality on May 9, and the NAACP endorsed the idea on May 19.

'While the media has been focused on what impact President Obama's announcement will have on his own reelection prospects, the more important fallout may be the impact his position is having on public opinion about same-sex marriage itself,' Jensen noted.

'Maryland voters were already prepared to support marriage equality at the polls this fall even before President Obama's announcement. But now it appears that passage will come by a much stronger margin.'

African Americans make up about one-third of Maryland's population.

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