WXXI Local Stories
Thu May 14, 2009
Poll Shows NYers Split on Gay Marriage
By Karen DeWitt
Albany, New York – A Quinnipiac University poll finds that New Yorkers are evenly split, 46% to 46%, on whether gay marriage should become legal in the state. The survey also finds deep divisions among age, gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds.
When viewed as a whole, New Yorkers appear to evenly divided on whether or not same sex marriage should be legal in New York, says Quinnipiac University's Mickey Carroll.
"We find an absolute, right down the middle split," said Carroll.
But the poll, which surveyed 2800 people, found significant differences in race, age, gender, and political party.
While whites narrowly support gay marriage by 47% to 45%, Hispanics oppose it by a slim margin 48% to 45%. African American voters, however, reject same sex marriage by 57% to 35%. Democrats are much more likely to support gay marriage than Republicans, 59% of Democrats are in favor, while 68% of Republicans are against. 49% of women back the measure, compared to 42% against, while the majority of men, 51%, are opposed.
Only Republicans, as a group, are split on whether same sex marriage poses a threat to opposite sex marriage, all other groups don't think gay marriage is a threat.
Carroll says, overall, though, the trend toward support for gay marriage is growing. The last time Quinnipiac conducted a survey on the topic, in 2004, the majority of New Yorkers were opposed, by a 20 point margin, at 57% to 37%. And he says the new poll finds overwhelming acceptance across all the various age, gender, ethnic groups and political parties for the idea of civil unions, with 65% saying they support it.
And he says when the responses are divided by age, younger people, age 18 to 34, are much more favorably disposed to gay marriage, at 61%. Voters 35 to 54, are evenly split, and only those over 55, as a group, are opposed.
"The age breakdown says this thing will eventually pass," Said Carroll.
Supporters of same sex marriage don't want to wait that long, though, and are continuing to lobby individual state Senators to try to garner the 32 votes needed for the measure to pass in that chamber. The bill to legalize gay marriage was approved in the State Assembly Tuesday by an 89 to 52 vote.
Governor David Paterson, a steady supporter of gay marriage, says he's been having conversations with individual Senators who have religious or moral objections, in order to try to change their minds.
"If they look solely at the law and the issue of equal protection, then we think we might be able to persuade them," Paterson said.
Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who is a supporter of gay marriage, says he won't schedule a debate until he's assured he has the necessary yes votes in the Senate in order for the measure to pass.