African-American support for same-sex marriage has surged

BALTIMORE – A new Public Policy Poll of Maryland voters shows a decisive majority (57%) would vote in favor of same-sex marriage if it's on the ballot this fall, while 37% would vote against. This is a 12-point swing in support from two months earlier and is due to growing African-American support in Maryland since both President Obama and the NAACP endorsed same-sex marriage.

“Things are moving in Maryland,” said Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality. “We’re approaching a supermajority who want to uphold the state’s new marriage law. The message of stronger families and greater fairness is resonating, and we’re confident Maryland will be the first state to win a ballot measure on marriage equality and religious freedom." 

In a memo, PPP pollster Tom Jensen notes there has been a “major shift in opinion about gay marriage among black voters [in Maryland].” Fifty-five percent of African Americans now say they would vote for the law and only 36% oppose it. These numbers have essentially flipped since PPP conducted an identical poll in March.

"Those opposed to same-sex marriage have some ground to make up," added Levin.

The Maryland data are in line with recent national polls reflecting majority African-American support. Yesterday’s ABC News/Washington Post poll registered 59 percent of African-Americans who expressed support for same-sex marriage – an 18-point jump from polls taken before the President's announcement.

“The President’s backing of marriage equality has added to our momentum– and his being on the November ballot also helps us,” Levin said. “Younger voters, who are overwhelmingly supportive, are much more likely to turn out in a presidential year." 

An overwhelming majority of Obama voters in Maryland and almost a third of Romney voters favor same-sex marriage.

The Civil Marriage Protection Act passed the Maryland legislature and was signed into law by Governor Martin O’Malley. Committed gay and lesbian couples can get a marriage license from the courthouse beginning in January, should voters approve the law. Churches and other religious institutions do not have to marry a gay or lesbian couple if they don’t want to.

Today's PPP poll, commissioned by Marylanders for Marriage Equality, surveyed 852 likely voters, including an oversample of 398 African Americans between May 14 - 21. The overall margin of error is +/-3.4% and for African-Americans it is +/-4.9%.  The polling memo can be found here.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality, the coalition working to defend Maryland’s new civil marriage law, is made up of 1199 SEIU, ACLU of Maryland, Equality Maryland, Human Rights Campaign, and others.