Poll shows Maryland voters support traditional marriage as legislative action nears

A new poll shows that most Maryland voters believe that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, while a supermajority believe the people, not the legislature, should define marriage.

A Lawrence Research poll released on Feb. 17 asked Maryland voters whether marriage should be between a man and a woman or whether it should be available to same-sex couples. About 54 percent of Maryland voters support the traditional definition of marriage, while only 37 percent supported same-sex “marriage.”

Asked whether marriage should be decided by the state legislature or voters, 78 percent thought that voters should decide on the legal definition of marriage while only 14 percent thought the legislature should.

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, said the results “strongly affirm” his group is on the right side of Maryland voters.

“Not only do voters support marriage by a 17-point margin, but they reject the legislature’s efforts to impose this without public input,” he said. “We’ll continue to fight to block the current legislation push in the general assembly, but this poll shows beyond any doubt that despite what the legislature does, the people will have the final say, and they will support marriage.”

Maryland State Sen. James C. Rosapepe has declared his support for same-sex “marriage” legislation, which could allow it to pass the legislature.

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said the chamber could hold a final vote on the bill within the next 10 days, the Baltimore Sun reports. Senate rules require 29 votes for a cloture vote to cut off debate and hold an up-or-down vote.

If the narrow majority in favor of the bill holds together through further debate and amendments, the legislation would move to the House of Delegates where supporters believe it would pass.

Although Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he would sign such a bill, traditional marriage supporters could then petition for a referendum to overturn it.

Rosapepe, a Catholic, said he decided to support the bill because it now contains greater protections for religious groups that don’t want to participate in same-sex unions. However, the Maryland Catholic Conference has said its opposition “does not rest on a simple concern for the interests of religious institutions only.”

It objected that the bill provides no protections for an individual’s religious freedoms, as in the case of a clerk forced to issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple.

“More importantly, our fundamental concern about redefining marriage is for the sake of our whole society, and particularly for children and their elemental desire to know, and ideally to be raised and loved by, their biological mother and father,” the conference explained.

Derek McCoy, president of the Maryland Family Alliance, noted that voters in 31 states have “rejected gay marriage and reaffirmed their support of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

“If the general assembly passes this legislation, we are confident that Maryland will become the 32nd state to preserve traditional marriage,” he continued.

The Lawrence Research poll, which was commissioned by the National Organization for Marriage, surveyed 600 self-identified registered voters and claimed a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points for “mid-range” results between 40 and 60 percent. It claimed a smaller margin of error for results beyond that range.

A different January poll claimed that Maryland voters favor same-sex “marriage” by a 51-44 margin. Gary Lawrence of Lawrence Research said that pollsters biased the results by including comments about providing homosexual couples “the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples in areas such as tax exemptions, inheritance and pension coverage.”

This framing presented same-sex “marriage” as only about granting rights and benefits without a counter-balancing statement from the opposing side.

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