Ohio Poll Supports Marriage Equality: Major Shift in Opinion

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A new poll released by FreedomOhio shows dramatic shifts over the past 10 years in Ohioans’ attitudes toward same sex marriage.

In 2004, 62 percent, of those voting, supported a constitutional amendment in Ohio to ban same-sex marriage.  The latest poll shows 56 percent of Ohioans support a new amendment that would allow same-sex marriages but also allow “houses of worship the right to refuse to marry a same sex couple.”

The poll, conducted by Public Policy Polling (PPP), tested the full text of the amendment, allowing respondents to evaluate the importance of the amendment’s religious freedom protections.

The new proposed amendment would allow marriages but also would give people and institutions a right to refuse to participate in the marriage ceremonies. In short, a right to marry and freedom of religious beliefs are both honored.

“The polling confirms what we have been observing: Voters like concepts, but they vote on specifics. And, voters support our amendment language because it specifically allows an adult couple to marry, regardless of gender, while also guaranteeing that houses of worship have the right refuse to marry a same sex couple, ” Ian James, FreedomOhio co-founder said.

James is a native Athenian and an alumnus of Ohio University.

“This poll shows that while voters want their house of worship to have the “right to refuse” and to say “no,” they support a loving couple’s right to say, “I do” at the courthouse,” James added.

Democrats in Ohio still support the concept more than Republicans.  Some 76 percent of the Democratic base support the marriage equality concept while only 36 percent of the republican base.  However, notable Ohio Republicans have pledged their support. Ohio’s United States Senator Rob Portman has endorsed the measure along with former Republican Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro.

FreedomOhio has cited several reasons for the shift in attitude supported by survey data.  Underlying much of the change is the fact that there has been much more positive discussion about the issue than a decade ago.

Additionally, the reasons stated in the survey are TV/Movies – pop culture re-defined the LGBT community, repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, rulings from the US Supreme Court, Obama/Biden repeated public support for Marriage Equality, other states allowing same sex marriage and nothing bad happening, NAACP and other Civil Rights leaders speaking out in support of Marriage Equality; Pope Francis saying “Who am I to judge?” about gays; greater numbers of people coming out to their family and friends, and more voters acknowledge knowing someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender.

In fact, the survey shows that 85 percent of Ohioans now say they know someone in the LGBT community.

Specific figures from the poll show 68 percent opposed marriage equality in Ohio in 2004 but now only 34 percent are opposed. In 2004, only 32 percent supported marriage equality and now that figure has grown to 56 percent. Ten percent are not sure.

FreedomOhio is the state's largest LGBT equality organization with over 62,000 members.