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Poll: Marylanders Split On Gay Marriage

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WJZ general assignment reporter Mike Hellgren came to Maryland's News...
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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — A brand new poll reveals Maryland voters are split on legalizing same-sex marriage and there’s a strong divide along racial lines.

Mike Hellgren has the numbers and the raging debate.

Legalizing same-sex marriage will be one of the hottest issues in the General Assembly and just released poll numbers show Maryland voters are split. Forty-nine percent favor it and 47 percent oppose. It’s within the margin of error.

“So, too, should a gay couple’s commitment by recognized by a state government,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

Key lawmakers, including Baltimore’s mayor and Governor Martin O’Malley, are pushing for passage, but the bill shows a huge divide among African-American voters. Only 33 percent favor it and 60 percent are opposed.

Peter Sprigg is fighting against legalization.

“The African-Americans understand that the color of a person’s skin are not comparable to the sex acts they engage in,” Sprigg said.

But supporters have key allies in the NAACP. Representative Donna Edwards came out forcefully for legalization this week.

“We can’t pick and choose the civil rights that we fight for,” Edwards said.

A majority of those surveyed in this poll are Democrats and most of them come from the suburbs of Maryland and Washington, D.C.

The poll also reveals passions are high: 34 percent strongly favor legalizing same-sex marriage and 38 percent strongly oppose.

Samuel Epps is part of the campaign for legalization.

“This is about fairness. It’s about protection under the law,” Epps said.

The stakes are high, without outside money expected to pour in. If marriage does pass, expect opponents to try to take it to voters for a referendum.

House Speaker Michael Busch says this legislation would go through two committees instead of one to increase its chances of going to a vote on the floor.

The poll also showed Governor O’Malley’s approval rating at 53 percent and President Barack Obama’s approval rating at 55 percent. Both of those numbers are up from the last survey in September.

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