Among Democrats, the racial divide is even more stark. While 76 percent of white Democrats back Question 6, support is 40 percent among black Democrats. Republicans in the state oppose the measure by 2 to 1, while independents support it 2 to 1.
Leprenia Lindsay, 43, is among those in favor of the measure.
"I think given the day and time we live in, and the progression of how society has changed, I would support same-sex marriage," said Lindsay, an African American who lives in Temple Hills, Md. "If someone is your life partner, that person should be able to assist in making life-and-death decisions; it shouldn't be up to some family member you haven't seen in 20 years."
Lindsay said her views began to evolve on the topic in the late 1990s when she returned to the Washington area shortly after college and took an entry-level job at Banana Republic. At an employee orientation she began reading about domestic partnership benefits.
"I thought, 'Oh my God, times are changing,' " she recalled Wednesday.
Lindsay said that even as she has come to accept gay marriage, her 15-year-old son has developed an opposition to it. "He is very accepting of people with alternative lifestyles, but doesn't believe they should be able to get married," she said.
That's a view common to a generation of older churchgoers in Maryland, the poll found.
"The Bible says there's only one marriage, the covenant between a man and a woman," said Melissa Smith, a retired elementary school principal who lives in Laurel. "They should have their beneficiaries; their families shouldn't be able to ban them from each other's deathbeds, but I don't think they need to be married in order to have that."