New Polling Shows Opposition to Congress' Focus on Federal Marriage Amendment

by HRC Staff

'Voters want Congress focused on fixing America's challenges, not creating more,' said Human Rights Campaign Political Director Samantha Smoot.

WASHINGTON - Polling recently conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associations shows that the Federal Marriage Amendment, scheduled for a Senate vote the week of June 5, ranks dead last for voters on a list of priorities on which they want Congress focusing and that voters have strong concerns about changing the Constitution. Commissioned by the Human Rights Campaign, the polling also shows strong opposition to changing the Constitution among independent, senior and Catholic voters.

"Voters want Congress focused on fixing America's challenges, not creating more," said HRC Political Director Samantha Smoot. "The numbers show that Americans want Congress working on affordable health care, the ongoing war in Iraq and passing new ethics and lobbying laws, not changing the Constitution. Senators and representatives should take these numbers as a sign that this political ploy will backfire at the polls."

"With key voting blocs opposed to the Federal Marriage Amendment, politicians would do better at the polls by focusing on the issues that matter to the electorate," said Jay Campbell, a senior analyst at Peter D. Hart Research Associates. "Over the years, numbers have gone up when it comes to support for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans. The Federal Marriage Amendment fight is looking more and more similar to the Terri Schiavo case, an unwise political maneuver."
The polling, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates in April 2006 among 802 registered voters nationwide, shows:

ᄡThe amendment ranks dead last on list of priorities. When asked about priorities in Congress, voters responded that among a list of top priorities for Congress, affordable health care (55 percent), dealing with Iraq (55 percent), passing new ethics/lobbying laws (25 percent) and passing an amendment banning flag burning (20 percent) all ranked higher than passing an amendment banning marriage for same-sex couples (18 percent).

ᄡThere are strong concerns about changing the Constitution. When asked if they agreed with the statement, "Regardless of how I feel about gay people getting married, I have concerns about changing the Constitution over this issue," 46 percent strongly agreed, 17 percent somewhat agreed, 11 percent somewhat disagreed and 21 percent strongly disagreed. Key blocs agreed with the statement: independents (62 percent), Catholics (69 percent) and seniors (63 percent).

ᄡSupport is building for civil unions. In another HRC-commissioned Hart poll in May 2004, voters were asked if same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as a man and a woman do, if civil unions/other legal rights should be given to same-sex couples or if no legal recognition should be given to same-sex couples. In 2004, voters responded 27 percent for marriage, 34 percent for civil unions and 36 percent for no legal recognition. In this poll, 25 percent supported marriage, 40 percent supported civil unions and 33 percent were for no legal recognition. When voters understand that the amendment would also ban civil unions, a majority oppose it.

ᄡCatholic voters are especially wary of the amendment. Majorities of Catholic voters say states should make their own marriage laws (53 percent, while only 37 percent support the amendment). When asked about the statement, "Marriage is about love and commitment. Regardless of how I personally feel about gay people getting married, I don't think it's my place to judge these people's love for and commitment to each other," an overwhelming 80 percent agreed.

ᄡGeneral political environment for gay issues is improving. In a similar survey done by Hart in May 2004, only 40 percent of voters said it was very important that we ensure gays and lesbians receive the same rights under law as other Americans. In this poll, 51 percent said it was very important.

Margin of error is +/- 3.5 percent. Respondents were reached by telephone using random-digit dialing.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.

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