Defense of Marriage is Divisive

Seeing this issue, same sex marriage, introduced again in the NC General Assembly (SB 106 Defense of Marriage) reminded me that we asked about this issue in March 2009.  At the time, slightly less than half of North Carolinians (44%) ‘opposed any legal recognition for same sex couples,’ while right around a quarter of people supported civil unions or partnerships (28%), or full marriage rights for same sex couples (21%).  In essence, there is no majority support for either position, telling us that this is a very contentious issue for North Carolinians.

Interestingly, North Carolinians’ opinions largely mirror national opinion data on the issue; last September (2010) Pew Research found that 48% oppose and 42% favor ‘allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.’ Though asked in a different manner, an AP/National Constitution Center Poll (in August 2010) found a majority of people (52%) believe the federal government should ‘give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex’ and 46% believed the federal government should not do so (and it should be noted that these numbers were reversed the year before, i.e., in September 2009).  These results suggest that people may not support same sex marriage, but they seem to support legal recognition.  Again, in that same March 2009 Elon Poll, we found that 50% opposed and 43% supported ‘an amendment to the North Carolina constitution that would prevent any same sex marriages.’

Bottom line is that this issue so divides people, in North Carolina as elsewhere, that whatever action is taken will please about half the population and upset the other half.


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