African-American voters shift opinions on same-sex marriage


U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the Human Rights Campaign's 15th Annual National Dinner at the Washington Convention Center on October 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. The President spoke to one of the leading gay rights groups two weeks after the repeal of the military's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy.


Kristoffer Tripplaar

Recent national polling data suggests that African-Americans, a traditionally socially-conservative and religious voting bloc, are increasingly in favor of same-sex marriage. 

The Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey, released today, concluded that the shift in Maryland voters' opinions meant that a "referendum to keep the state’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage now appears likely to pass by a healthy margin."

Maryland's governor Martin O'Malley signed a law legalizing same-sex marriage on March 1, and the law is due to go into effect in 2013 if it is not repealed by a ballot initiative in November.

The PPP survey found that 55 percent of African-American voters in Maryland say they will support the [Maryland same-sex marriage] law. This was a dramatic change from PPP’s previous survey, conducted in March, which found that 56 percent of African-American Maryland voters said they would vote against the measure.

A number of prominent African-Americans, including Jay Z and Colin Powell, have endorsed gay marriage in recent weeks. Their support follows that of President Barack Obama, who said on May 9 that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry. On May 19, the NAACP also stated that marriage was a civil right, reported the Los Angeles Times.

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On May 17, PPP released a similar poll in North Carolina, where voters recently approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. The poll found that "55 percent of African-Americans believe same-sex couples should either be allowed to marry or form civil unions." This was a shift from a poll conducted just days before the ban passed, in which 51 percent of the African-Americans polled did not think gay couples should be given legal rights.

The Obama campaign also reported today that poll numbers on same-sex marriage were increasingly tilting in their favor, the Associated Press reported.

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