Marriage Battles in Maine, Maryland Take Shape

Voters to decide on ballot measures in November

Voter attitudes on same-sex marriage ballot measures in two states, Maine and Maryland, are coming into sharper focus.

In Maine, earlier this year, marriage equality advocates successfully garnered enough signatures to place a referendum on November’s ballot. Voters will be asked, “Do you want to allow same-sex couples to marry?” And according to a new poll commissioned by the Portland (Me.) Press Herald, a majority of them may say yes.

Fifty-seven percent of those polled said they would back the referendum if the election were held today. Thirty-five percent said no, and 8 percent were undecided.

Those results reflect a higher level of support for same-sex marriage as compared to the rest of the country. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll published May23, shortly after President Barack Obama’s televised announcement in support of same-sex marriage, 53 percent of Americans also supported legalizing it, compared to just 39 percent opposed.

Meanwhile, anti-gay activists in Maryland have presented 160,000 signatures, many more than the 56,000 required, to place an initiative invalidating the state’s recently passed same-sex marriage law on the November ballot. Though no state has ever upheld marriage equality once it is put to a majority vote, Maryland may represent a turning point. Obama’s announcement in May apparently resonated with African-American Marylanders, half of whom now support marriage equality, according to numerous polls.

Overall, support for equality is high in the reliably Democratic state: 57 percent of all voters approve of same-sex marriage, according to a May 25 Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by Marylanders for Marriage Equality.

What Do You Think?