BALTIMORE, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- Polling of Maryland voters a few weeks ago suggested black voters supported same-sex marriage but a poll conducted last week indicated the numbers tightened.
A poll conducted in late September for the Baltimore Sun indicated 10 percent more voters approved of a ballot measure legalizing same-sex marriage than disapproved, with more than 50 percent of black voters supporting the idea and 25 percent opposing. By Oct. 20, another poll for the Sun showed 50 percent of black voters were opposed to the measure and 42 percent approved.
The change in numbers among black voters could be attributed to black pastors in Maryland urging their congregations to vote against same-sex marriage in a blitz just prior to the election, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
"No vote means you've already voted," the Rev. Harold L. Dugger, pastor of First Baptist Church in Prince George's County, told congregants. "We stand firmly on the word of God -- your faith has to do a lot with what you do at the polls."
Linda Herbert, 28, of Baltimore said she backs the measure and believes religious voters who oppose the measure might not vote against it if they understood churches would not be forced to perform same-sex marriages.
"This is a civil rights issue -- we need to respect the separation of church and state," she added.
If the measure passes, Maryland would become the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage through a popular vote, the Times reported.