In a dramatic shift, Maryland voters overwhelmingly would vote to uphold a law allowing same-sex marriage, according to a survey released Thursday by Public Policy Polling.
Fifty-seven percent of likely voters would vote to uphold the law allowing same-sex marriage, while 37 percent would not, representing a 12-point shift from an identical survey in early March. Fifty-two percent think gay marriage should be recognized, while 39 percent do not. Both polls were commissioned for Marylanders for Marriage Equality.
Maryland passed a gay marriage law, but it doesn't take effect until January 1, 2013. Opponents of the law are seeking to get 55,736 signatures to force a referendum on it by June 30, which is likely to happen. Maine and Minnesota will vote on gay marriage in November.
The poll notes that the shift can be explained "almost entirely" by a change in black voters' attitudes. Previously, 56 percent said they would vote against the new law, with 39 percent saying they would vote for uphold it. Now, 55 percent say they will vote for the law and 36 percent are opposed.
And yes, PPP attributes the shift in Maryland's black voters entirely to President Obama backing same-sex marriage. The end result is that if this trend continues, Maryland's expected ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage in the state's constitution before the state's same-sex marriage law can take effect in January 2013 will go down to a serious defeat. Ta-Nehisi Coates sums it up:
It would not simply mean that same-sex marriage held by a majority vote, but that it did so in one of the blackest states in the country. I don't think that says anything distinctive about African-Americans, except that in the climate, it seems exceptional to point out that black people are, in fact, not aliens permanently in the grip of pathology, but Americans.
I was skeptical that Obama would actually influence black opinions. I'm not sure he has. But I can't rule it out. It's clear that the trend was toward support. Maybe Obama gave it the final push. On a related note, preachers who thought they were going to use this to test, for better or ill, the most popular man in black America, should reconsider.