A poll released by marriage equality advocates in Maryland suggests voters may keep the state’s new laws in a ballot later this year, allowing them to come into effect in 2013.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality released details of a Hart Research poll last week which indicated voters approved of marriage for gay couples by a 14-point margin, 54 percent to 40.

The state legislature approved of marriage for gay couples earlier this year but opponents gathered enough signatures to require a public ballot.

The church-led Maryland Marriage Alliance gathered more than enough signatures to put the issue on the ballot in November before the law takes effect in 2013.

Josh Levin, campaign manager for Marylanders for Marriage Equality said: “We continue to have the momentum.

”Voters are having conversations on marriage around the dinner table and are agreeing that people should be treated fairly.”

Maryland voters would be the first in the country to vote in favour of marriage equality in a state-wide ballot.

Marylanders for Marriage Equality noted that African-American voters were split at 44 percent in favour and 45 percent opposed, while earlier this year opposition was higher at 49 percent with only 40 percent in favour.

It attributed the decreased opposition to gay marriage laws to discussion of marriage equality prompted by the endorsement of the issue by President Obama and the NAACP.

Mr Levin added: “We’re winning over undecideds and the intensity is clearly on our side.

”Voters are realizing that this law is about treating our gay friends, family, and neighbors equally under the law, and that no religious institution would be forced to marry anyone they objected to.”

The poll asked 504 state-wide voters and 515 African-American voters their intentions for November.