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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) activity in Maryland

2011-SEP to NOV: Poll on SSM. African-
American support. More Catholic opposition.

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This is a continuation from a previous essay

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2011-SEP-23: Poll on SSM taken among Maryland registered voters:

Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. conducted a poll among 805 adults in Maryland who vote regularly. The margin of error is estimated at ±3.5 percentage points. Results were curious, because they reported a statistical tie between voters who supported and opposed same-sex marriage. National polls typically show a 53% support and 45% opposition for a margin of about 8 percentage points. The Gonzales poll showed 48% support and 49% opposition.

One reason for these results may have been the "poison pill" embedded in the survey question and its location in the poll. The pollsters asked voters' opinion on SSM immediately after they had asked abut the budget situation in the state. 36% of those sampled felt that the "... situation in Maryland is a crisis; 46% think that it is a major problem." Having sensitized the voters to the state's budget problems, the pollsters then asked whether the voter's opinion of "... a law in Maryland allowing same-sex couples to marry, 'giving them the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples in areas such as tax exemptions, inheritance and pension coverage'." Treating loving, committed same-sex couples equally would, of course, necessarily eliminate various forms of financial discrimination against them, and would exacerbate the state's budget problems.

A second reason for the unexpected results was that they only polled registered voters who voted regularly. That would remove many young adult voters from the survey who tend to have a very favorable view towards SSM, and weigh the results in favor of older voters who tend to be strongly opposed to marriage equality.

The poll showed that Democrats favored marriage equality by a 2:1 ratio (64% to 32%); Republicans were opposed to marriage equality by about 4:1 (79% to 20%). Independents were more or less equal (47% in favor & 51% opposed). 1

See this section's menu for a summary of polls taken during 2011 and 2012.

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2011-SEP/OCT: Game changer? Support for SSM from the African American community:

Throughout the U.S., African Americans have not supported SSM to the same degree as the general population. A news conference held in Raleigh, NC, about a constitutional amendment to ban SSM in that state may indicate why. An article in the Winston-Salem Journal said:

"Several black ministers who spoke at a later news conference said it's contrary to the Christian faith and the Bible for same-sex couples to marry. The Rev. Johnny Hunter of Cliffdale Community Church in Fayetteville said gay-rights activists have offended black people by equating the efforts to support same-sex marriage with civil-rights activism in the 1960s.

'Blacks know what real discrimination is all about,' said Hunter, referring to slavery and Jim Crow-era laws. 'They're disrespecting ... the foot soldiers of the civil-rights movement'."

A second factor limiting African American support for SSM may be because a larger percentage of African Americans attend conservative Protestant churches than does the general population. Opposition to SSM in the U.S. comes mainly from fundamentalist and other evangelical denominations. On the other hand, a larger percentage of Roman Catholic laity support SSM than does the general population.

However, there may be signs of a change. In the same article, the Winston-Salem Journal article said:

"... the Rev. William Barber, president of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People [NAACP], said the sponsors of the amendment bill, who are overwhelmingly Republican, are trying to take civil rights backward with the amendment.

'No matter our color or faith traditions, those who stand for love and justice are not about to fall for this amendment mess,' Barber said in a statement released by the gay-rights group Equality North Carolina." 2

The Maryland chapter of the NAACP is taking the same position. CBS News in Baltimore reports: "NAACP [Baltimore] is jumping in the battle - a potential game-changer." CBS News reporters wrote:

" 'I'm looking forward to some people changing their mind,' said Tessa Hill-Alstin, President of the Baltimore NAACP.

This time, the NAACP is jumping in the battle. It’s a potential game-changer and they’re already lobbying African-American lawmakers who voted against the marriage bill last season.

'We’ve always been, for over 100 years, fighting for the rights for all people and we want everyone to live the way they want to live. The NAACP is a force that believes in equality for all people,' Hill-Alstin said. ...

The most recent poll shows a majority of Marylanders are in favor of extending marriage rights to same-sex couples." 3

The poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. shows that 51% of white voters support SSM, compared to 46% who oppose, for a margin of 5 percentage points. However, only 41% of African Americans support SSM, compared with 59% who oppose SSM. 1 Thus, a shift in African-American support might have a major effect on any future referendum.

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2011-NOV-11: Roman Catholic bishops in Maryland issue document warning of danger to religious liberty and freedom:

Over the past few centuries, religions as varied as Protestantism, Roman Catholicism, Native American spirituality, Neopaganism, etc. have suffered attacks on their religious freedom. With the separation of church and state embedded in the U.S. Constitution, and with more recent passage of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, freedom of religious belief and practice is now near universal throughout North America.

However, a change has occurred in recent years. Religious freedom has expanded from simple freedom of religious belief, assembly, and practice to include the freedom of religious institutions to denigrate other groups and discriminate against them. Often these attacks have been directed at women and sexual minorities.

This change is being driven by three transitions that have occurred over the past century in the area of gender, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Women, as well as lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals (LGBTs) are seeking and gradually attaining equality. Secularists, religious liberals, Neopagans, and others have generally been able to accommodate these transitions; some have actively promoted them. However, many conservative religious groups have had difficulties with equality for these groups. Many conservative religious groups still deny positions of authority -- and sometimes even membership -- to women and/or LGBTs.

Women are approaching hospitals and pharmacies seeking birth control counseling, contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, abortions, in-vitro fertilizations, artificial insemination and other fertility treatments. Loving, committed same sex couples are approaching foster care and adoption agencies. Increasingly, these hospitals and agencies are run by the Roman Catholic Church, largely as the result of mergers with non-religious groups. After mergers, one of the hospital's first actions is to close down clinics or ban procedures. Also, some pharmacies are staffed by Roman Catholics, some of whom refuse to fill prescriptions by dispensing some medications. The Church considers many of these services to be unacceptable and even mortal sins. They teach that a homosexual orientation is intrinsically disordered and that homosexual activity is often a moral sin. The potential for conflict is extreme, particularly when local, state or federal governments provide funding to hospitals and agencies and expect the latter to provide a full range of services.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Maryland Poll, October 2011," Gonzales Research &Marketing Strategies, 2010-OCT-04, at: This is a PDF file.
  2. JournalNow staff, "Rhetoric heats up in fight over same-sex marriage," 2011-SEP-07, at:
  3. CBS News Baltimore, "NAACP [Baltimore] is jumping in the battle - a potential game-changer," CBS, 2011-OCT-04, at:
  4. "Governor’s Decision to Sponsor Same-sex Marriage Bill is Regrettable," Press Release, Maryland Catholic Conference, 2011-JUL-22, at:

Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > MD > here

Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2011-MAR
Latest update: 2012-JAN-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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