Over the last decade, Republican politicians and the Catholic bishops have been key players leading the charge to ban same-sex marriage. Two recent surprises in New York State should raise some eyebrows among these groups.
First, Barbara Bush, George W. Bush’s daughter, produced a newly-released video on behalf of “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality,” a project of the Human Rights Campaign. In the video, she says, “I’m Barbara Bush, and I’m a New Yorker for marriage equality. New York is about fairness and equality, and everyone should have the right to marry the person they love.”
Given the prominent role that same-sex marriage bans played in Barbara Bush’s father’s presidential campaign, her appearance is certainly one striking example of the generational divides on this issue.
Second, a recent survey of New York registered voters conducted by Quinnipiac University found that a solid majority (56%) now say they would support a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry. Less than 4-in-10 (37%) New York voters say they would oppose the law. Views on same-sex marriage in New York state have shifted significantly since Quinnipiac first gauged voter sentiment on the issue in April 2004, when a solid majority of New Yorkers opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry (55% to 37%).
One other surprise was the poll’s finding that a majority (52%) of New York Catholic voters support allowing same-sex couples to marry. Six-in-ten Jewish voters in New York also support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, while Protestant voters are evenly divided (46% support, 48% oppose).
New York voters overall register significantly higher levels of support for same-sex marriage than registered voters nationally. Among voters nationally, 46% support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 51% who oppose (PRRI American Values Survey 2010). New York Catholic voters’ views, on the other hand, are consistent with the fellow Catholic voters nationwide, among whom 53% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, compared to 44% who are opposed.
These surprises suggest that Republican and Catholic leaders may find themselves increasingly out of touch with the rhythm and blues that are moving their constituents and congregants on these issues.
The Quinnipiac survey was conducted from January 18 – 24, 2011, among 1,436 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 2.6 percentage points for the entire sample. The initial release of the findings did not give breakdowns of the results by religion, but our colleagues at Quinnipiac supplied the following religion crosstabs to the PRRI research team. Margins of error for religious subgroups were as follows: +/-5.13 percentage points for Protestants, +/- 4.05 percentage points for Catholics, and 8.63 percentage points for Jews.
The Post-Election American Values Survey was designed and conducted by Public Religion Research Institute. Results of the Post-Election AVS were based on 1,494 callback interviews with respondents from the Pre-Election AVS telephone survey (landline and cell phone) that was fielded in early September 2010 among a national random sample of 3,013 adults (age 18 and older). For the Post-Election survey, telephone interviews (landline and cell phone) were conducted in both English and Spanish from November 3-7, 2010, by professional interviewers under the direction of Directions in Research. The margin of error is +/- 3.0% for the general sample at the 95% confidence interval.