(Photo: AP/Chris Gardner)
A major Maryland newspaper reports a significant drop in support for a ballot initiative that would legalize same-sex marriage in the state.
The Baltimore Sun found that last month support for Question 6, which would legalize same-sex marriage, was 49 percent to 39 percent opposed. However, a recent polling of the question found that opposition to Question 6 had cleared the 10 percentage point gap and presently leads by one percent.
In a statement, the National Organization for Marriage hailed the large change in polling data to "our tried-and-true winning formula."
"A robust, grassroots ground game of religious leaders and people of faith (in this state, we owe special thanks to the African-American churches!)," reads an email sent out to supporters.
"Persuasive TV and radio ads that attest the goodness of marriage and warn undecided voters about the harmful consequences of redefining it…[and] YOU!"
According to Annie Linskey and Michael Dresser of The Balitmore Sun, the change in support for Question 6 was in part because of shifting views in the African-American community on the issue.
"The contest is now a dead heat in part because some African-Americans who supported the measure or were undecided are now saying no," wrote Linskey and Dresser.
"Growing opposition to the measure is not surprising, based on the experience in other states. Same-sex marriage measures have been defeated in all 32 states in which they have been on the ballot."
In 2011, Democratic leaders including Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley unsuccessfully sought to legalize same-sex marriage via the legislature.
In February, the bill was returned to the Legislature and passed by a vote of 72 to 67 in the Maryland House of Delegates and in the Senate by a vote of 25 to 22. In March, Governor O'Malley signed the bill into law, making Maryland the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage.
After O'Malley signed the bill, efforts were launched to hold a referendum on the marriage definition and by July, 110,000 Marylanders had signed a petition calling for the referendum.
As Nov. 6 draws near, both sides of the marriage definition debate have launched extensive media campaigns to persuade Maryland voters to vote for or against Question 6.
The Maryland Marriage Alliance, which opposes same-sex marriage, have used ads that argued that a victory for Question 6 could lead to the loss of religious freedom and parental rights, citing incidents in other states like Massachusetts that have legalized same-sex marriage.
Marylanders for Marriage Equality, which support same-sex marriage, has run ads arguing that gay marriage is a civil right and using prominent speakers such as President Barack Obama and civil rights leader Julian Bond.
Maryland is one of four states that will be voting on this issue next week. Maine and Washington states will hold referendums on legalization and Minnesota has a ballot measure that would constitutionally ban same-sex marriage.