Voters in Maryland could also become the first state to approve a form of the Dream Act, which has been adopted in 13 other states but never been put to a statewide vote. The Post poll found that 59 percent of likely Maryland voters back the measure, which would allow undocumented imigrants to pay in-state tuition rates at public colleges; 35 percent are opposed.
It has been three years since voters in any state were asked to legalize same-sex marriage — the question failed narrowly in Maine in 2009. Opponents have said they are confident that voters will reject the three state measures yet again. But advocates have long been looking at next month’s election as a potential breakthrough that capitalizes on momentum from President Obama’s endorsement of same-sex marriage earlier this year.
They received another boost Thursday when a federal appeals court in Manhattan ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, was unconstitutional. The issue is expected to reach the U.S. Supreme Court soon.
“The last barrier we need to overcome as a small minority is winning a majority vote on the ballot,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, a national gay-rights group. “There’s definitely a pathway to victory in these three states, but we can’t take anything for granted.”
Although The Post poll found that likely voters favor a ballot question on whether to uphold Maryland’s same-sex marriage law 52 percent to 43 percent, the race is hardly over. Historically, opposition to gay nuptials at the ballot box has been stronger than polls suggested, and an expected ad blitz from opponents of Question 6 has barely begun.
“We’re feeling very positive,” said Derek McCoy, the leader of the Maryland Marriage Alliance, which is heading up the opposition. “We’re going to help people understand what the consequences are of redefining marriage, and they’ll realize this isn’t a very smart thing to do.”
Opponents plan to press the argument that allowing gay unions would not only undermine the institution of marriage but also affect school curricula and infringe upon religious liberties, even as supporters in Maryland say they have gone to great lengths to protect against that.
The law, championed by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), was passed by the legislature this year and swiftly petitioned to the ballot by McCoy’s group.