Maryland gaming could hurt same-sex marriage

Leia Burks and Irene Huskens will be closely watching Maryland's same-sex marriage referendum. The Prince George's County couple, who are raising two kids together, are hoping to gain the right to marry.

A recent poll had 54% of Maryland voters supporting gay marriage. But historically opponents have done better than polls showed when it came time to vote.

“The love that we share for each other, we want to be acknowledged and recognized because we want to join the ranks of those that are married, that want to have happy, healthy family and homes,” says Huskens.

Muddying the political waters is gaming. Pollster Stefan Hankin says just having it on the ballot could help opponents defeat same sex marriage.

He says there could be a swing anywhere from two to four points based on the casino's being on the ballot. Any time you are dealing with a 50/50 proposition, a point or two can make the difference between passing and not passing, he says.

Gaming will likely be a high-dollar campaign that could drown out other measures. And the anti-gaming side will target socially conservative voters, giving them additional reason to vote all the way down the ballot.

And they are the least likely to support gay marriage.

It's a potential political Catch-22 for Maryland's governor, who is pushing for the gaming initiative and has backed gay marriage. Gov. Martin O’Malley is hoping to make it part of his legislative legacy as he eyes a possible presidential run in 2016.

Editorials in the LGBT media are expressing concern and criticizing the governor, with one writing, "He's literally gambling with our rights."

It leaves Burks and Huskens wondering if their right to marry could be decided by a governor's roll of the political dice.

“I'm hopeful people will vote on what's fair and what's right,” says Burks.