Poll Indicates Strong Views On Each Side Of Gay Marriage Debate

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland voters appear closely divided on the question of legalizing same-sex marriage.

Political reporter Pat Warren has the results of a new poll that indicates strong views on both sides.

Equality Maryland broke out a web video of Governor Martin O’Malley urging support of legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.

“I ask you to join us as we work to pass marriage equality in the state of Maryland,” he said in the video.

While 48 percent of people polled favor legalizing same-sex marriage and 38 percent of them feel it strongly, 49 percent oppose changing the law and 39 percent feel so strongly. Those numbers fall within the three percent margin of error, which political analyst Matthew Crenson says sends a message to both sides.

“It says we’re in the middle and this could go either way,” Crenson said.

“The legislation we plan to introduce in the 2012 legislative session will protect religious freedom and equality of marital rights under the law,” O’Malley said.

Same-sex marriage supporters expect Governor O’Malley to pull votes for them but traditional marriage supporters are pulling against him.

“Martin O’Malley needs to understand that the people of Maryland do not want marriage redefined,” said Robert Broadus, Protect Marriage Maryland.

The Gonzales poll shows Democrats are in favor two to one and Republicans are opposed by about four to one. A majority of independents are also opposed. By race, a majority of whites favor changing the marriage law but even as Democrats, 59 percent of African-Americans oppose it.

“It’s because a very high percentage of them are church-going people, take their Bibles seriously,” said Crenson.

To counter that, the NAACP is promoting same-sex marriage as a civil right.

“I think everybody should have the rights to do what they want to do and live the life they choose,” said Tessa Hill-Alston, NAACP.

There’s a special session of the General Assembly on redistricting this month. Although no formal discussion of same-sex marriage is expected, you can expect the lobbying will begin.

Same-sex marriage passed the Maryland Senate this year but failed to get a vote in the House of Delegates.

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