Maryland residents split on gay marriage, new poll shows

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Local,Maryland,Hayley Peterson

Maryland voters are split on whether to support the state's new same-sex marriage law if it goes to a ballot vote in the fall, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The survey by the independent polling firm OpinionWorks found that 43 percent of respondents are in favor of repealing the same-sex marriage law, while 40 percent said they would vote to keep it.

An additional 11 percent of respondents said they have no opinion and may not vote either way if it's on the ballot in November, while 5 percent said they intend to vote but are undecided on the matter. The poll had a 4-point margin of error.

The survey results
ForAgainstUndecided, won't voteUndecided, will vote
40%43%11%5%
Party registrationForAgainst
Republicans26%60%
Democrats45%38%
Independents45%38%
GenderForAgainst
Male33%49% 
Female47%38% 
Source: OpinionWorks

Maryland will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in January if the legislation survives an expected voter challenge. Opponents of the law must gather 55,736 signatures by June 30 to send the law to a voter referendum in the November general election, according to the State Board of Elections. The Maryland Marriage Alliance and MDPetitions.com, groups that are leading efforts to overturn the law, would not disclose how many signatures they had gathered as of Wednesday.

While voters seem to be split on the issue, opponents of the law have stronger feelings about repealing it than advocates do for upholding it, according to the OpinionWorks survey.

"Although this result is within the poll's margin of error, it is the intensity of feeling among same-sex marriage opponents that causes the overall result to lean slightly towards repeal," said Steve Raabe, president of OpinionWorks.

Roughly 37 percent of respondents said they "strongly" feel compelled to vote against the law, compared with 31 percent who said they feel equally compelled to uphold it.

Supporters of the same-sex marriage law see the statistics under a different light.

"The only thing we can glean from the OpinionWorks poll is that there are roughly one-third [of voters] who are persuadable and that no side is anywhere close to a majority," said Kevin Nix, spokesman for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a group that supports same-sex marriage. "It's incumbent upon us to make the case to those who are undecided that voting 'yes' is the right thing to do for Maryland and that all children should be protected equally under the law."

The poll surveyed 601 registered voters in Maryland between March 16 and 19.

hpeterson@washingtonexaminer.com

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Hayley Peterson

Staff writer - White House/campaign and Maryland politics
The Washington Examiner