Half of Maryland residents now favor the legalization of same-sex marriage, but support varies significantly along the sensitive lines of race, religion and age, a Washington Post poll has found.
Overall, the Post poll found that 50 percent of Marylanders support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry while 44 percent are opposed.
The new poll found a sharp divide among Maryland Democrats based on race. Among whites, 71 percent support same-sex marriage, while 24 percent do not. Among blacks, 41 percent are supportive, while 53 percent are opposed. Maryland has the largest concentration of African Americans of any state outside of the Deep South.
In recent public appearances, O’Malley has sought to stress that “religious exemptions” included in his bill are intended to reassure religious leaders that they will not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
The poll found that nearly three-quarters of those opposed to gay nuptials say their views stem primarily from their religious beliefs — a factor that makes lobbying on the issue more challenging.
As in other parts of the country, there has been a trend in recent years of growing support for gay unions in Maryland, driven in part by the views of younger people.
The mindset of Daniel Carlin-Weber, 23, is fairly typical of his generation. A Dundalk resident who works at a film and video production company, Carlin-Weber got married in August and said he sees no reason why gay couples shouldn’t enjoy the same rights as he and his wife.
“We’re allowed tax benefits, things like that, and it’s a nice seal of approval — you know, these guys are a couple,” he said. “I feel everyone else should be treated the same way. There’s no reason not to do that.”
Among Democrats in Maryland, support has grown more rapidly among whites than blacks. During the past five years, support among whites has edged up, while support among black has been flat.
“It’s mostly a religious thing,” said Margaret Turner, 34, a Silver Spring resident who is a manger at a McDonald’s restaurant.