New poll shows dramatic shift in Maryland’s support for the freedom to marry

In the wake of President Barack Obama's announcement that he supports the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, public opinion is shifting dramatically across the country, including in Maryland, according to a poll released last Thursday.

The support in Maryland is vital, since the state is facing a ballot initiative in November that, if passed, would strike down the freedom to marry. In March, Maryland's governor, Martin O'Malley, approved a law that would grant same-sex couples the freedom to marry. Almost immediately, anti-gay activists began collecting signatures to put the bill up to a vote.

Last week's poll points to Marylanders' strident opposition to vetoing the marriage bill. 57 percent of the Maryland voters surveyed in the poll, which was conducted by Public Policy Polling, said they would vote to uphold the law. Only 37 percent of respondents said they would vote to against the freedom to marry. 

The new findings represent an enormous increase from an identical Public Policy Polling survey conducted in March. In that poll, 52 percent of respondents said they supported the freedom to marry bill, while 44 percent opposed it.

Public Policy Polling points to a groundswell of support from black Maryland voters to explain most of the shift. The organization writes in their survey findings:

The movement over the last two months can be explained almost entirely by a major shift in opinion about same-sex marriage among black voters. Previously 56 percent said they would vote against the new law with only 39 percent planning to uphold it. Those numbers have now almost completely flipped, with 55 percent of African-Americans planning to vote for the law and only 36 percent now opposed.  

Maryland isn't the only state where black Americans are supporting the freedom to marry more than ever. Across the country, a record number of black Americans have taken the time to consider why marriage matters and come to the conclusion that all families deserve the protections and security that only marriage can provide. A national poll last week from The Washington Post and ABC showed that 59 percent of black respondents said they agreed with President Obama's support of the freedom to marry.

Freedom to Marry is thrilled and energized to see majority support for the freedom to marry in poll after poll over the past several weeks. We are excited to see Americans reflecting on the importance of marriage for all couples and consistently voicing their support for the freedom to marry.