Tag Archives: Same-sex marriage

Confusion over the marriage amendment

Is there any doubt that many North Carolinians don’t understand the marrigage amendment that is on the May primary ballot? Craig Jarvis at the News & Observer wrote an article Friday about the confusion — confusion we’ve mentioned often

Everything from what it’s called to what it would do has been disputed. Poll results released Thursday show solid support for the referendum – until the pollsters explained to the potential voters what it proposes.

It bans gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships.

In fact, our February poll results clearly show that North Carolinians believe the state should recognize same-sex couples either in marriage or in civil unions. But a PPP poll says likely voters support the amendment. (I address the differences in the two polls here.)  
It is a politically risky move by the Republican legislature and cuts against the trend in other states. A recent article in Politico describes how the GOP nationally is trying to distance itself from such bans.
What was once a front-and-center issue for rank-and-file Republicans — the
subject of many hotly worded House and Senate floor speeches — is virtually a dead issue, as Republicans in Congress don’t care to have gay marriage litigated in the Capitol.

Even more than that, Republican leadership has evolved, too. It has quietly worked behind the scenes to kill amendments that reaffirm opposition to same-sex unions, several sources told POLITICO.

We release new poll results on the amendment Monday.

— John Robinson

Which state has the most religious residents?

Gallup reports that Mississippi is the most religious state in the union with 59% of its residents classified as “very religious.”

Gallup classifies 40% of Americans nationwide as very religious — based on their statement that religion is an important part of their daily life and that they attend religious services every week or almost every week. Another 32% of Americans are nonreligious, based on their statement that religion is not an important part of their daily life and that they seldom or never attend religious services. The remaining 28% of Americans are moderately religious, because they say religion is important but that they do not attend services regularly or because they say religion is not important but still attend services.

Fifty percent of North Carolinians are classified as very religious, making it the eighth most religious state. Twenty-one percent are said to be nonreligious.

What does it mean? Gallup suggests that the most religious states are also the most Republican. And the polling firm says that states with more “moderately religious” residents will be presidential battlegrounds. That doesn’t apply particularly well to North Carolina, which voted for President Obama in 2008 and is shaping up to be a key swing state. 

The 50% “very religious” figure may help explain the intense feelings residents have on the same-sex marriage ban amendment. (Religious people interpret the Biblical references to marriage and homosexuality in different ways.)

By the way, the state with the most nonreligious residents? Vermont.

— John Robinson

Why are there different results on same-sex marriage ban amendment?

Isn’t interesting that when likely voters are read the amendment about same-sex marriage that will be on the North Carolina ballot they voice one opinion. Yet, when North Carolinians are asked specifically about same-sex marriage, they respond another way.

What gives?

WRAL reported that a SurveyUSA poll asked this question:  North Carolina voters will vote on a constitutional amendment that says, quote, “Marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State.” If you were filling out your ballot today, would you vote for? Or against? This amendment?

Fifty-eight percent of respondents said they would vote for the amendment, and 36% said they would oppose it.

Meanwhile, Elon University Poll asked residents: Would you (support or oppose) an amendment to the North Carolina Constitution that would prevent any same-sex marriages? 54% said they would oppose it ; 38% said they would support it.

One difference between the two polls is that SurveyUSA polled likely voters; Elon polled residents. (Elon purposely does not break out likely voters. We believe that the opinions of all North Carolinians should be heard when public policy discussions are held.)

Another difference is that the Elon University Poll first asked people to say which of three statements comes closest to their positions on the same-sex marriage issue.

1. I oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples. (33%)

2. I support civil unions or partnerships for same sex couples, but not full marriage rights. (28%)

3. I support full marriage rights for same sex couples. (39%)

Is the amendment on the ballot confusing because it doesn’t mention what would be excluded as a result of a “yes” vote? Or is there that much of a difference of opinion between residents and “likely voters”?

Either way proponents have an educational campaign ahead of them.

— John Robinson

President Obama opposes the same-sex marriage ban

President Obama waded into the same-sex marriage ban Friday, announcing his opposition to the constitutional amendment on the state ballot in May.

Why would he get involved in a state issue? Certainly, he thinks he can gain politically in a state that is a key to his re-election strategy.

The latest Elon University Poll showed he may just do that. Fifty-four percent of North Carolinians said they would oppose an amendment to the North Carolina constitution that would ban same-sex marriage. Thirty-eight percent support it. In addition, women strongly oppose the amendment banning same-sex marriage. And Obama has to win the female vote to win the election.

The News & Observer quoted Michael Munger, a political scientist at Duke, as saying that Obama has little to lose.

“This is a no-lose political proposition for him,” Munger said. “President Obama gets to come out and say ‘Hey, gay community, I am taking a stand that you care about.’ But by the time November rolls around, no one is going to remember, or the ones that do would have voted against Obama anyway.”

While his stand may help him politically, the question that won’t be answered until May 8 is whether the president’s opposition to the amendment helps the effort to defeat it. His opposition could make the distinction between how people feel and how the amendment is worded on the ballot clearer. Some polls say that people support the amendment when they are asked about it using the specific amendment wording.

From N.C. Policy Watch: The language of that amendment takes the hard line: it would ban all state recognition of same sex couples permanently – whether it’s called “marriage,” “civil union,” or something else.

If this truth is made clear to voters, the amendment will almost certainly fail as voters will quickly view it as too extreme. If, however, voters are allowed to approach the vote as (incorrectly) a simple “up or down” referendum on what they think of same sex “marriage,” it has a strong chance of passage.

 — John Robinson

Why the same-sex marriage ban may pass

Given the polling results, it might appear that the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions will get swatted into the cheap seats to use a basketball analogy during ACC Tournament time.

Not so fast. There are a few reasons that the amendment may win the day. And I’ll outline them in a moment. But first, here is a taste of the national sentiment on this issue.

Same sex marriage legislation is a hot topic around the nation. It is expected to be on the ballot this year in five states. It even has implications in the presidential election.

In California: A Field Poll revealed that 59 percent of California registered voters support same-sex marriage — the highest level of support ever recorded during 35 years of surveying issue in the state.

In Maryland: A new poll commissioned by Marylanders for Marriage Equality shows 52 percent of respondents would “probably” or “definitely” vote for the same-sex marriage bill if it is on the ballot in November. The survey showed that 44 percent would “probably” or “definitely” vote the measure down.

In New Jersey: Most New Jerseyans support gay marriage, but they also believe the issue should be put to a referendum, according to a Quinnipiac University poll.

In I0wa: A majority of Iowans oppose passage of a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll shows.

Back in North Carolina, if the race for the Republican nomination is still on in May — and it could well be — then expect a heavy GOP turnout at the polls. Given that more Republicans support the amendment, their turnout may overpower the more liberal opposition to the amendment. It may well be up to amendment opponents to energize their supporters to actually get to the polls. (I suspect they know that already.)

If the 18-35 year-old voters don’t turn out in sizable numbers — they tend to have weaker turnout than older voters — then that will further weaken the opposition.

Be ready for a full-court press ad campaign from both camps.

The Elon Poll survey North Carolina residents, without making a distinction of whether people say they are likely to vote. While I doubt it skews the results in a measurable way because the opposition is strong, it could.

Update: N.C. Policy Watch points out another good reason. The language of that amendment takes the hard line: it would ban all state recognition of same sex couples permanently – whether it’s called “marriage,” “civil union,” or something else.

If this truth is made clear to voters, the amendment will almost certainly fail as voters will quickly view it as too extreme. If, however, voters are allowed to approach the vote as (incorrectly) a simple “up or down” referendum on what they think of same sex “marriage,” it has a strong chance of passage.

— John Robinson

Opposition to a same-sex marriage ban strengthens

You could make the case — at this point, I would — that the hottest ticket on the May 8 ballot in North Carolina isn’t the GOP presidential primary or the gubernatorial primaries. Rather, it is a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions.

The Elon University Poll results are clear that most residents — 54% — oppose the amendment. Support for full marriage rights for same sex couples or civil unions has gotten stronger in each of the four Elon polls over the past year.

Why the shift? From the Los Angeles Times: Proponents of gay marriage, who traditionally frame the cause as a matter of equality and civil rights, are increasingly invoking something else: family. And the tactic seems to be working.

The message “used to be one that focused on rights, parity in benefits,” said Fred Sainz, vice president of communications and marketing for the Human Rights Campaign, a national gay rights group based in Washington, D.C. Since about 2008, Sainz said, same-sex marriage activists have begun “talking about love, honor and commitment.”

Looking deeper into the results indicate that women strongly oppose the amendment banning same-sex marriage. When I say strongly, I’m talking 63%. Breaking it down even more, 42% of women said they supported full marriage rights for same-sex couples and 26% said they wouldn’t go that far but would support civil unions. Men weren’t nearly as supportive: 28% said they supported full marriage rights and 29% supported civil unions.

Other trends in North Carolina:

* Self-described liberals are much stronger in support of some sort of legal recognition for same-sex couples (87%) than self-described conservatives are in their opposition (47%). In fact, 51% of conservatives support legal recognition of sam-sex couples.

* A majority of all age groups oppose the amendment. People 55 and older have the softest opposition, but 56% of them still said they would support either full marriage rights for same sex couples or civil unions. 

Despite the trends, there is good reason to think that the amendment may pass. I explain that….in my next post. (Just like American Idol does when it breaks for commercial.)

The News & Observer news story on the same-sex marriage poll results.

— John Robinson