The movement to marriage equality continues to show progress in Maryland. As lawmakers in the Maryland House and Senate formally kicked off their push for gay marriage, a new poll has shown that for the first time, an absolute majority of Marylanders now support full marriage equality.
According to Annapolis-based pollster Gonzales Research, 51 percent of Maryland residents support gay marriage. Endorsements break down along party lines, with 65 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents favoring same-sex marriage, while only 24 percent of Republicans back the concept. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.
The steady growth in Maryland for acceptance of equality matches the trend nationally and internationally. Speaking of the US,
Tim Magrath, a lecturer in political science at Frostburg State University and a former congressional staffer, agrees that the national attitude toward same-sex marriage is changing.
“The polling data’s been incredible, the numbers have completely turned around,” said Magrath. “In the ’90s when (President) Clinton first started talking about gays in the military, the approval rating was in the 30s, but now a vast majority of people support the idea of gays in the military.”
“Public perception on marriage has been transformed in the last decade as well, and there’s been a major transformation in public opinion,” said Magrath.
The bill which is now being introduced will face strong opposition and a likely filibuster. Still, it has an excellent chance of being passed, after the mid-term elections saw an increased number of key supporters elected to the state legislature. Governor O’Malley has promised to sign the bill if it reaches his desk – but it will probably then face an attempt to force the issue into a voter referendum.
UPDATE: The bill has now been formally submitted to the Maryland House with58 co-sponsors. (Last week it was introduced in the Senate with 18 co-sponsors):
House Majority Leader Kumar Barve today submitted the House plan to legalize same-sex marriage — a proposal backed by 58 delegates who have signed on as co-sponsors.
Barve described the number of supporters as “pretty darn good” for a controversial issue. The House would need 71 “yes” votes to pass the legislation.
It’s another sign that gay marriage has gained traction this year. Maryland would join six other states and the District of Columbia if either full marriage benefits or a compromise civil unions plan is passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has said he would do so.
Notably, 12 members of the House Judiciary Committee, the panel that will weigh whether to send the measure on for debate in the entire chamber, are co-sponsors, according to a list of signatures provided to The Sun this morning. That’s exactly the number needed to approve the bill in committee.