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Poll finds gains for same-sex marriage in Maryland

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The poll shows a notable dip in opposition to legalizing same-sex marriage among African Americans since the last Post poll. Blacks in Maryland are now nearly equally divided over the issue. In the District, where black clergy have been among the most vociferous critics of a measure that took effect this year allowing gays to marry, a slight majority of blacks oppose same-sex marriage, another Post poll has found.

Although the new poll seemed to reflect a turning point, lawmakers and political observers were split on the question of how quickly the change would result in a different outcome for proposals to legalize same-sex marriage.

This year, there were enough votes on the House Judiciary Committee to send the question to the floor for a vote, but the committee chairman, Del. Joseph F. Vallario (D-Prince George's), did not bring the measure up for a vote. House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) does not support it. He favors civil unions and considers marriage the purview of the church. In the Senate, led by longtime President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert), lawmakers are traditionally more socially conservative than in the House.

Sen. Richard S. Madaleno (D-Montgomery), one of the General Assembly's few openly gay lawmakers, said he was hopeful nonetheless that a same-sex marriage bill would receive more consideration next year.

"One of the reasons we have not come to agreement is there really hasn't been consensus within our state as to what direction we should go. I think you are now seeing a consensus develop," he said.

Even if a bill clears the legislature, it still might have trouble at the governor's desk -- no matter who wins the seat in November.

Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) went along with Gansler's legal opinion to direct state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages from elsewhere, but he has consistently stopped short of endorsing same-sex marriage.

Former governor Robert L. Ehrlich (R), O'Malley's likely opponent in the November election, wrote an opinion piece in February charging that Gansler's decision flew in the face of state precedent not to recognize same-sex marriage and said he considers marriage as solely between a man and a woman.

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