Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gay Marriage Poll out of Michigan

     From January 2-4, the Glengariff Group Inc. - commissioned by the Detroit News and WDIV Local 4 - surveyed Michigan voters on many issues facing the state, such as increases in tourism funding, how they believe President Obama is doing, and whether they favored construction of a new bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. But the poll question most applicable to the LGBT community was the question on gay marriage and civil unions. 
According to the study,

By a margin of 38.5%-50.2%, Michigan voters oppose allowing gay men and lesbians to get married. 54.9% of Democratic voters support gay marriage, 42.3% of Independent voters support gay marriage, but only 19.6% of Republican voters support gay marriage.
But when asked if they support granting the alternative of civil unions to provide the legal benefits of marriage while still preserving the word marriage as something between a man and a woman, voters support civil unions by a margin of 55.7%-36.5%.
63.7% of Democratic voters, 61.1% of Independent voters and even 44.3% of Republican voters said they could support civil unions for gay and lesbian Michiganders.
There is a strongly difference by gender specifically on the issue of marriage.
Men oppose marriage by a margin of 33.0%-56.7% But women SUPPORT same sex marriage by the narrow margin of 44.0%-42.6% Men support civil unions by a margin of 55.7%-36.7%. Women support civil unions by a nearly identical margin of 55.7%-36.3%. Men appear to have a strong reaction to the word ‘marriage’ that women do not share.

     Though these numbers may seem to be disheartening, they are actually very positive. Remember that when Michigan passed its Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage in 2004, it passed with a vote of 59% of the population. Thus, the pro marriage equality side has reduced its opposition by about nine percent. Congrats to us.

       Though this is a good development, the problem exists with the civil union question. Though a majority of Michigan voters  approve of Civil Unions for gay and lesbian couples, the amendment to the Constitution that they approved in 2004 specifically bars the state from recognizing civil unions. Thus, if there is to be any way forward on this issue, a new amendment must be drafted that would allow civil unions for gay and lesbian couples. That being said, considering the understandable animosity that many within the LGBT community have to civil unions, I highly doubt that a civil unions amendment would be backed by Michigan gay rights groups, since they could instead just fight to repeal the marriage amendment.

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