Supporters, too, are relying on religious leaders. Their two television commercials supporting same-sex marriage feature black pastors pitching the law as an issue of fairness. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which endorsed same-sex marriage this year, has opened a ballot committee in Maryland and has spent about $75,000 on radio commercials.
NAACP President Benjamin Jealous appeared at a rally last week attended by about 50 students on the Morgan State campus. "We have never seen a generation as tolerant as yours," he said to the students, urging them to vote for both same-sex marriage and the Dream Act.
As with same-sex marriage, the gambling measure has fired up black ministers — many of whom oppose it on moral grounds. Some of the television spots urging a "No" vote on Question 7 prominently feature black voters.
The Question 7 television ads have largely been funded by rival casino companies. Ads in favor of gambling also have featured appeals aimed at black voters.
New pro-gambling commercials running in the Washington metro area feature the county executives of Prince George's and Montgomery counties, both whom are black. And supporters have turned to Wayne Curry, a black former Prince George's county executive, to head a new grass-roots committee to push the issue.
Even when an ad might not be tailored to blacks, the tens of millions of dollars behind a message can push it to the forefront.
Larry Tyce, a 50-year-old black voter in Riverdale, said he nearly always listens to black-oriented radio stations, and says most of the spots he hears are about gambling.
"They've bought ads telling African-Americans to vote for it," Tyce said. And he plans to do so.
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