Monday, November 7, 2011

Maine Residents Reverse Course on Marriage Equality

Two years ago the National Organization for Marriage and other Religious Right groups mounted a scare campaign about marriage equality in order to convince voters in Maine to overturn a marriage equality law—before voters actually had a chance to see that no harm was inflicted because of it. The vote at the polls was 47% to keep marriage equality and 53% to strip gay people of the right enter legal marriage contracts.

Public Policy Polling revisited the issue in March of this year and their poll showed that 47% now supported marriage equality and 45% opposed it. Now they have released their newest polling results and find that 51% support marriage equality while 42% would oppose it.

But once again they have broken down support and opposition into more nuanced positions. When you include the supposed "separate but equal" position of civil unions support for legal recognition of gay couples jumps dramatically. In Maine only 17% of the residents say they oppose all legal recognition of gay relationship. Support for gay marriage and/or civil unions garners support from 82% of the residents—36% supporting civil unions, and 46% supporting full marriage rights.

A similar pattern in shifting views on the topic is seen over and over. Individuals had strong opposition to the issue. As the matter is discussed and debated the percentage of people supporting civil unions increases, as does the percentage supporting full marriage rights. At first the percentage supporting civil unions tends to be greater than the percentage supporting marriage. Individuals who support civil unions rather rapidly move over to supporting full marriage rights as opponents to equality shift their views to support civil unions.

As things are currently going "civil unions" is not the compromise position where the consensus will settle. It is a half-way house where the public pauses for a second breath before moving on to supporting marriage equality. In other words, all the evolution is going against the Christian Right—they have already lost this issue, it is now just waiting for the final results.

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