January 22, 2010 at 3:02 am EST | by Harley Dennett
Marylanders support marriage rights

For the first time, a poll has revealed that more Marylanders support same-sex marriage than oppose, 47 percent to 44 percent, and more than half would vote to keep such unions if they became legal.

The Greenberg Research poll of 960 voters commissioned by Equality Maryland also found significant gains in feelings toward “gays and lesbians” compared with previous polls, including among Catholic and African-American voters.

“Notably, the LGBT community is more popular right now than the governor and other local politicians,” says an analysis penned by pollsters Anna Greenberg and David Walker.

Although there was some hostility toward homosexuality, the pollsters noted there was common ground that LGBT activists could explore.

“[E]ven among more observant Catholics, there are opportunities to build bridges,” says the analysis. “The African-American community is in a somewhat different place. A majority of these voters believe homosexuality is a sin and there are also some class resentments that emerge, more so in the focus groups than in this survey. Still, this research finds some common ground here as well.”

Equality Maryland released the results this week ahead of efforts to win more co-sponsors for the same-sex marriage bill state Sen. Richard Madeleno (D-Montgomery County) is preparing to introduce.

Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County) said she wasn’t surprised at the poll’s results.

“As more and more states do full marriage equality and their residents see it isn’t something that has a big, negative impact — people won’t suddenly turn gay just because we’re able to get married — a lot of the fears go away,” she said.

According to the poll, 39 percent of surveyed voters said they would vote to overturn legislative action legalizing same-sex marriage, while 51 percent said they would vote to sustain gay nuptials.

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