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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 13 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 28
Marriage equality has big advantage in new Maine poll
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Marriage equality has big advantage in new Maine poll

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Maine voters support marriage equality by 57% to 35%, according to a Portland Press Herald poll released July 11.

If accurate, the 22-point margin is a stunning reversal in public opinion since the November 2009 election, when voters repealed the state's new marriage equality law by 53% to 47%.

The new numbers are in line with previous polling. A poll released in April by the Maine People's Resource Center showed 57.5% strongly or somewhat in favor of marriage equality and 39.7% strongly or somewhat opposed.

A March poll by Public Policy Polling found that 54% of Maine voters favor marriage equality, while 41% said same-sex marriage should remain illegal.

James Melcher, associate professor of political science at the University of Maine sounded a note of caution when interviewed about the polling by Maine Today.

Voters may not always be honest when asked how they feel about Gay rights, Melcher warned. They also tend to be more supportive of change several months before an election than when they actually vote, he added.

Other polling also suggests that introducing options other than 'marriage' to describe Gay and Lesbian relationships complicates the response.

A national CBS News/New York Times poll in February said that just 40% of Americans named marriage as their preferred option. Twenty-three percent favored civil unions and 31% said they support neither type of legal recognition.

Maine voters choose the 'marriage' option more often than most Americans. Fifty percent of the Maine voters who were polled chose marriage. Twenty-eight percent chose civil unions and 17% said neither.

The bulk of Republicans - 44% - chose civil unions as an alternative to marriage.

In the latest poll, party affiliation was the single best indicator of support for equal marriage rights. Democrats support same-sex marriage by a margin to 77% to 16%. In contrast, 64% of Republicans oppose marriage equality and only 30% support it. 'Unenrolled' voters - those who have not specified a party affiliation - support equality 63% to 31%.

Maine women showed more support for equality than men, but both sexes favor same-sex marriage by significant margins. Women said they would vote for marriage equality by a margin of 60% to 32%, and men by 54% to 40%.

As other polls have shown, younger voters are more likely to support marriage equality. Among 18-to-34-year-olds, 67% support same-sex marriage and only 27% oppose it. Voters aged 55 to 64 also support equality by a significant margin, 61% to 35%. Opinion is evenly split among voters over 65, with 44% in favor and 43% opposed.

Better-educated voters also tend to favor marriage equality more than less-educated ones. Sixty-two percent of college-educated voters favor same-sex marriage and 30% oppose it, while voters without college are split, 49% for and 46% against.

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