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Poll Finds Marylanders Split on Same-Sex Marriage, DREAM Act

Lawmakers disagree on poll's accuracy.

By Ashley M. Latta
Capital News Service 

ANNAPOLIS — A new poll indicates that Maryland voters are evenly divided on two controversial issues: same-sex marriage and the DREAM Act, a law that allows in-state tuition for children of illegal immigrants.

"The poll is consistent with what we've seen in the past," said Delegate Heather Mizeur, D-Montgomery, a strong supporter of same-sex marriage.

A January Gonzales poll also showed an even split among Marylanders on the issue.

But Delegate Emmett C. Burns, Jr., D-Baltimore County, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage, strongly disagreed with the results.

"I am surprised that the Gonzales poll is incorrect," Burns said, adding that he believes the percentage of people opposed to same-sex marriage is most likely between 60 and 75 percent, based on the informal responses he has received on the issue.

"I have no faith in the poll," he said.

In the poll conducted by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies, 805 registered, likely voters were surveyed by telephone over an eight-day period in September. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Delegate Anthony O'Donnell, the House minority leader, said he was not surprised that the electorate is divided over the in-state tuition legislation that passed this spring.

"I was not surprised that a large portion of Maryland voters do not support giving in-state tuition to illegal immigrants and do not support the DREAM Act," O'Donnell said. "The real story there is that a large number of Democrats do not support the DREAM Act."

O'Donnell said this dead heat could have ramifications beyond the scope of immediate policy-making because next year's candidates will have to clearly identify where they stand on these issues.

"It could make for a very interesting election," O'Donnell said.

Despite the divided electorate, advocates believe there is still time to influence voters.

Gov. Martin O'Malley announced this summer that he will make same-sex marriage an administration priority, which is music to the ears of advocates.

"We expect an additional boost of momentum because there's no bigger megaphone in Annapolis than the second floor," said Mizeur, referring to the Governor's office.

But opponents are also organizing efforts to combat proposed same-sex marriage legislation in the 2012 legislative session. Burns recently announced the creation of a political action committee to fight same-sex marriage, strengthening a previously loose confederation of opponents.

Opponents of the DREAM Act have also been active in their efforts to repeal the law. This summer, the state Board of Elections confirmed that the petition to repeal the DREAM Act had tens of thousands of signatures, more than enough to suspend the law. As a result, there will likely be a referendum on the ballot next November.

CASA de Maryland will soon begin its campaign to educate Marylanders about the DREAM Act, said Gustavo Torres, the executive director.

"We don't know if there's going to be a referendum," Torres said, adding that he believes their campaign — with the support of unions, policy-makers and O'Malley — will gain the support necessary to keep the DREAM Act alive.

The poll also found the "economy and jobs" was the top issue for the majority of Marylanders, transcending party lines.

At 49 percent, President Obama's approval rating in Maryland has slipped 5 percentage points since the beginning of the year. But despite this decline, the majority of voters polled said they would vote for Obama over the leading GOP candidate, Mitt Romney in 2012.

O'Malley maintains a fairly solid position according to the poll, with a 52 percent approval rating. But he too has slipped from 58 percent at the beginning of the year.

What do you think about the two issues? Vote in our polls below.

jag October 06, 2011 at 04:52 PM
You're entitled to your opinion, JH, just don't pretend that you're the majority viewpoint and the rest of the world is "loony lib." You're the ever-shrinking "loony" minority, if anyone. "Not right or workable for individuals or groups to make up there own definition" - I agree, as do most, thus why fewer and fewer people think the archaic Christian definition of marriage should be our country's civil definition.
Al Veerhoff October 09, 2011 at 02:49 AM
Polygamists also get jailed, especially if they "marry" girls under 18. I believe they describe themselves as heterosexuals. There are differences between "social" goods, legal acts and what is called the common good. Is it illegal, immoral or improper for a legally married gay couple to become foster parents or adopt a child? This is a question we can't run away from.
jnrentz1 December 11, 2011 at 04:43 PM
If two adult people wish to marry, I say let them. I support the suggested marriage legislation, but only if it is enacted by a legislature. The Dream Act is a different concern. I am opposed to the Dream Act. The Dream Act is simply another step to an amnesty for a large group of people who should not be in Maryland or any part of America in the first place. Maryland should not be in the business of rewarding law breakers of any kind, no matter how emotionally appealing their arguments.
Corbin Dallas Multipass December 12, 2011 at 03:39 AM
"Like the President being against gay marriage." I'm not sure it's right to categorize apprehensiveness towards tackling an issue head on from the bully pulpit to be opposition. The President's stance has been to let Gay Marriage play itself out through the legislative branch and at the state level, a fair choice for a politician to make on a politically charged issue.
Bonnie December 12, 2011 at 09:19 PM
Thank you, Andrea (and jag for your similar compassionate comments). Many people support GBLT rights without being GBLT. Anyone who believes otherwise is simply mistaken.

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