- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 15, 2006

Voters in Maryland and Virginia would support amending their state constitutions to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, a poll conducted by Rasmussen Reports shows.

Yet, voters in Maryland support giving same-sex couples the same benefits as married couples, which voters in Virginia oppose, the poll of 500 likely voters in each state found.

Of those surveyed, 63 percent of Virginia voters would support a constitutional amendment if the election were held today, while 32 percent oppose the measure. Four percent of the voters were not sure.

The Republican-controlled Virginia Senate is expected to approve such an amendment next month. The measure would then go to voters for approval in November. The House overwhelmingly approved the measure Friday.

Of those surveyed, 54 percent of Maryland voters would support a constitutional amendment if the election were held today, while 38 percent said they would oppose it. Eight percent of voters said they were not sure.

The Democrat-controlled Maryland legislature is unlikely to approve such an amendment, though proponents of such a bill pushed for one last year and plan to do so again this session.

The results of the poll were provided to The Washington Times last week. The New Jersey-based Rasmussen Reports conducted the survey Tuesday. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points.

Sixty-six percent of voters in Virginia support allowing same-sex couples to visit each other in the hospital, inherit each other’s property and make medical decisions on each other’s behalf, the poll shows. Twenty-nine percent oppose it and 5 percent are not sure.

But when the same Virginia voters were asked whether same-sex couples should receive “the same benefits given to married couples,” 57 percent said “no,” 38 percent said “yes,” and 5 percent said they were not sure.

Most Maryland voters, or 76 percent, favor hospital visits, property transfers and medical decision-making between same-sex partners, while 18 percent oppose it and 6 percent are not sure, the poll shows.

Fifty-four percent favor allowing same-sex couples to receive the same benefits given to married couples, while 37 percent oppose it. Eight percent were not sure, the poll shows.

The poll also found that 57 percent of Virginia voters oppose adoption by same-sex couples, while 38 percent support it. Five percent were not sure.

In Maryland, 50 percent of voters support adoption by same-sex couples, while 38 percent oppose it.

The latest poll drew some negative reactions from both sides of the debate.

Dan Furmansky, executive director of Equality Maryland, which lobbies for homosexual rights, said he found the poll numbers “difficult to believe” because they reflected high support for an amendment.

“We don’t live and breathe polling information. People are clearly moving on this issue in the direction of fairness and justice,” Mr. Furmansky said.

Delegate Don Dwyer Jr., Anne Arundel County Republican who has been outspoken about his opposition to rights for people “based on how they decide to live their sexual life,” said he was “shocked” at the high percentage of support for same-sex adoption among Maryland voters.

“It’s not as strong as I had hoped for. It’s still not bad. It still shows the majority of Marylanders support traditional marriage,” he said.

In Virginia, Delegate Adam P. Ebbin, Alexandria Democrat and the legislature’s only openly homosexual member, said the proposed constitutional amendment is designed for “scapegoating gays and lesbians for political purposes.”

“This House has taken many actions to exclude gay and lesbian Virginians from mainstream society,” Mr. Ebbin said.

Delegate Kathy J. Byron, Lynchburg Republican, said legislators must trust Virginia voters to decide the matter.

“The institution of marriage and the traditional family are worth defending,” Mrs. Byron said. “Marriage as we know it today could be redefined by the judicial process.”

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