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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 14, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 37
Marriage equality polling
Section One
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Marriage equality polling

Marriage equality polls look good in ME, MD, and WA, though MN is a dead heat

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

While Washington's LGBT community is focused on our own Referendum 74, marriage is also on the ballot in Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota, and polls show pro-equality measures leading in three states and roughly tied in the fourth. As The Four 2012 campaign (see last week's issue) suggests, it is definitely possible for LGBT voters to wake up on November 7, the day after the election, with four historic victories under our belts.

MAINE: ROUND TWO
The Maine legislature legalized same-sex marriage in 2009, but the law was overturned later that year in a referendum similar to our own R-74. Marriage equality supporters, led by Equality Maine and GLAD, gathered signatures to put marriage equality on the ballot again this year.

Several hundred equality supporters rallied in Portland, the state capital, on September 10, launching their 'Yes on One' pre-election push.

'My greatest hope is that the first marriage ceremony to be performed after the election in November will be here in Portland at City Hall,' Portland Mayor Michael Brennan told supporters.

At the rally, Mainers United for Marriage, the pro-equality campaign organization, announced a $100,000 week-long media ad campaign beginning September 11.

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported that NOM will make $500,000 in matching funds available for the anti-equality side. Mike McTighe, campaign manager for Mainers United for Marriage, said NOM plans to spend $385,000 on advertising in the three weeks leading up to Election Day.

The Catholic Church has also kicked off a series of meetings to promote opposition to equal marriage rights for Gay and Lesbian couples. Thirty-seven percent of Mainers identify as Catholic.

A July 11 poll commissioned by the Portland Press Herald newspaper showed the marriage initiative winning by 22 points, with 57% in favor and only 35% opposed.

The measure appears to have broad support across demographic categories. More than 60% of voters in most age groups - including 18- to 34-year-olds and 55- to 64-year-olds - said they would vote for equality. Those 65 and older were about evenly split on the question, with 44% in favor and 43% opposed.

MARYLAND: BLACK ENDORSEMENTS MADE A DIFFERENCE
The Maryland state legislature passed a marriage equality bill in February, and Gov. Martin O'Malley signed it into law on March 1. Opponents, backed by local Catholic officials and NOM, succeeded in putting a referendum on the November ballot asking voters to vote for or against the new law.

In addition to Gov. O'Malley, who strongly supports the law, equality supporters got a boost from endorsements by NAACP president Ben Jealous, who lives in Baltimore, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.

'The culture has had to expand,' Jackson told Gay radio host Michelangelo Signorile at the Democratic National Convention.

'For so long we thought it was a sin for blacks to have freedom. We thought it was a sin for black and white men and women to interrelate. We've grown in our appreciation of the fact that we live in our faith, and our faith may live under the law. All citizens deserve constitutional protections. You know, you have a right not to agree with interracial marriage, but no one should be denied rights under the law.'

Jackson told another reporter that he would perform a same-sex wedding ceremony if a Gay or Lesbian couple asked him to do so.

The support of Jealous and Jackson, along with President Obama's endorsement of marriage equality, is important in a state where some 30% of the population is African American.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo also brought publicity to the pro-equality campaign. Ayanbadejo's outspoken support for equality outraged conservative Maryland lawmaker Emmett C. Burns, who wrote a letter to the team's owners urging them to silence their player. Ayanbadejo got support both from his team and from Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who wrote Burns a colorful response.

HRC recently invested an additional $250,000 in the Maryland campaign, raising its statewide total to $1.6 million.

An August poll from Hart Research Associates found 54% of respondents favoring the marriage equality law and 40% opposing it. As in other states, voters were sharply divided by party preference. A January poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies found 62% of Democrats support same-sex marriage and 76% of Republicans oppose it.

MINNESOTA: RAZOR-THIN MARGIN
Same-sex marriage is already illegal in Minnesota. The issue voters will have to decide in November is whether to make it super-illegal by adding an amendment to the state constitution stating, 'Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota.'

While the amendment will have no immediate consequences for same-sex couples living in Minnesota, it would make any future marriage equality legislation much more difficult to pass.

Like his colleagues in Washington, Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul sent a 'pastoral letter' to his parishes supporting the amendment. The Monday after it was read at Mass, Catholics for Marriage Equality reported a spike in requests for their 'Another Catholic Voting No' yard signs.

As that anecdote suggests, polling has shown public opinion going back and forth between amendment supporters and opponents.

A PPP poll released September 12 showed the election in a dead heat, with 48% opposing the measure and 47% supporting it. A Survey USA poll released the day before showed the amendment leading by seven points, however, with 50% saying they will vote for it and only 43% against it.

Survey USA found the amendment ahead in all regions of the state, with the closest margin in the Twin Cities metro area, where the 'yes' vote is ahead just 46% to 44%. Voters in the 18-49 age group support the measure by 48% to 42%. Voters over 50 support the amendment 51% to 44%.

To date, Minnesota Catholic churches have given $1 million to pass the amendment. Minnesotans United for All Families, the organization opposing the amendment, has reportedly raised some $4.6 million.

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