Zachariah Long, left, and Edward Ritchie protest against gay marriage… (Patrick Semansky / Associated…)
Maryland could become one of the first states to legalize same-sex marriage at the ballot box, a new poll by the Washington Post suggests.
The survey found that 52% of Maryland's likely voters support Question 6, the “Civil Marriage Protection Act,” which would allow marriage licenses to be provided to same-sex couples. The measure is opposed by 43% and 5% had no opinion. The act stipulates that religious clergy or leaders will not be forced to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples.
Although same-sex marriage is legal in six states (New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire and the District of Columbia), it has yet to be legalized by a ballot initiative. Thirty-two states have voted on initiatives since 1998 and all have opposed gay marriage.
Maryland voters aren’t alone in deciding on the issue this year; Maine and Washington state are asking voters to weigh in on Nov. 6. Maine voters, in a poll conducted last month, favor the measure, 52% to 44%, as do voters in Washington, 56% to 38%. In Minnesota, voters will be asked whether they want to ban same-sex marriage.
TIMELINE: Gay marriage in the U.S.
When asked what influenced their opinion on same-sex marriage, 36% of likely Maryland voters said their religious beliefs, 14% said their personal experiences, 12% said their education and the rest were split between other reasons.
One explanation for the results may be that same-sex marriage advocates have beaten their opponents in fundraising. In Maryland, almost $3.6 million has been raised in favor of Question 6, and just $860,000 against. In Washington, more than $11.7 million has been raised in favor of the initiative, compared with more than $1.8 million in opposition. And in Maine, nearly $4.8 million has been raised in favor of same-sex marriage with less than $700,000 against.
Question 6 was placed on the ballot by opponents, who gathered enough signatures to force a referendum on legislation signed by Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The Washington Post’s poll was conducted from Oct. 11 to 15 by telephone among a sample of 1,106 Maryland residents, including 843 likely voters. The full sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 points.
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