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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Poll Shows Opposition to the Bachmann Amendment

I talked to GOP Party Chair Ron Carey at the SD 51 convention. I said I thought the single minded focus from the state party on the Bachmann amendment was both morally wrong and also a poor strategy that is backfiring.

Now the Pioneer Press is reporting on a poll that shows major opposition to the Bachmann amendment. Hopefully the Republican Party will listen to reason and find some other issues to run on. The poll was commissioned by Equality Minnesota. Ann Viitala is chair of the board of directors of Equality Minnesota.

Poll: Voters oppose marriage amendment
But recent survey also finds majority are against gay marriage
BY BILL SALISBURY
Pioneer Press

A majority of Minnesota voters oppose a state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman, according to a statewide poll to be released today.

The survey found 54 percent of registered voters were against the proposed amendment, while 40 percent supported it.

If the amendment also makes same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships illegal, support for it drops from 40 percent to 28 percent.

The poll was released as the Minnesota Legislature considers a constitutional amendment that says marriage and "its legal equivalent" can only be between one man and one woman. Most opponents and proponents of the amendment agree the "legal equivalent" language would ban civil unions or other same-sex partnerships that would grant gay couples the same rights and responsibilities as marriage.

Decision Resources Ltd., a Minneapolis polling firm, conducted the poll of 625 registered voters Jan. 11-19. It has a margin of error of 4 percentage points. It was commissioned by Equality Minnesota, a nonprofit organization supporting the rights of same-sex couples.

Although an advocacy group sponsored the poll, a national polling expert said it appears to be impartial.

"My impression is it's a very carefully done survey. In terms of question wording, it is not misleading or biasing," said Cliff Zukin, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University and president of the American Association for Public Opinion Research.

Last year, a poll conducted for Marriage for Minnesota, an organization that supports a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, found that 61 percent of Minnesota residents would vote for the amendment. That survey, conducted in February 2005 by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, a national firm that also polls for the Pioneer Press and Minnesota Public Radio, found 63 percent of the respondents believed Minnesotans should have the right to vote on the amendment.

Nationally, 51 percent of Americans oppose legalizing gay marriage, according to a poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. But that number has "declined significantly from 63 percent in February 2004, when opposition spiked following the Massachusetts Supreme Court decision (allowing gay marriage) and remained high throughout the 2004 election season," said a report on the Pew poll of 1,405 adults conducted March 8-12.

Constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage passed in all 11 states where they were on the ballot in 2004.

But since then, the Pew report said, "opposition to gay marriage has fallen across the board, with substantial declines even among Republicans."

In the Equality Minnesota poll, Democrats oppose the marriage amendment by a 2½-to-1 ratio, while Republicans support it by a 2-to-1 ratio. Independents also oppose the amendment but by a narrower 3-to-2 ratio.

The poll results indicate that while most Minnesotans disagree with the proposed constitutional amendment, they also oppose gay marriage. Seventy-five percent support the current state law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, with 19 percent opposed to it. And 48 percent say permitting same-sex marriage would damage traditional marriage.

Most polls on gay marriage ask only a few questions about the issue. The Equality Minnesota survey asked more than 100 questions on that and related issues.

"The group wanted not only to know where voters are on that issue but how they see gay and lesbian rights in totality," said Bill Morris, president of Decision Resources.

Equality Minnesota decided to release the poll results now, two months after it was completed, because it took the group time to analyze the results. The group also didn't want to fuel the gay-marriage debate, said Ann Viitala, chairwoman of the organization's board of directors. As the debate became more prominent in recent weeks, "we thought the results could help inform the debate,'' she said.

The results suggest Minnesotans have reservations about the proposed amendment. By a 61 percent to 29 percent margin, they agreed with the statement: "Minnesota already has a law banning same-sex marriage; we don't need a constitutional amendment."

Seventy-seven percent said an anti-gay-marriage amendment "could be a distraction from other important issues facing Minnesota." And 60 percent believed such an amendment "could divide us, and we need to work together for the good of Minnesota."

By more than a 3-to-1 ratio, the respondents said gays and lesbians "should have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else." An even larger proportion said government shouldn't treat people differently because of sexual orientation.

Voters were more closely divided, however, on legalizing same-sex partnerships. By a margin of 48 percent to 38 percent, they said it would be all right for government to "allow something like civil unions," but not same-sex marriages.

The poll showed that 40 percent of Minnesota voters have a close friend or relative who is gay and 52 percent know or work with a gay person.

Patrick Sweeney contributed to this report. Bill Salisbury can be reached at bsalisbury@pioneerpress.com or 651-228-5538.

75 percent say they support the current law that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

54 percent oppose amending the Minnesota Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage.


I have never heard of Equality Minnesota. Ann Viitala is an attorney who used to work for Outfront when they were known as the Gay Lesbian Community Action Council. I did a google search and didn't retrieve a website. I retrieved an MPR article which talked about the money that would come into Minnesota on this issue.

Yet another new group, Equality Minnesota, would embark on a separate public relations campaign to link protection of the rights of gay and lesbian people, which they believe most people support, to the right to marry.


I'm very glad Equality Minnesota did what they did. It's too bad they don't seem to have a website - because I would contribute to their campaign.

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