Minnesota Poll: Support gay marriage? 46% say I do

  • Article by: BAIRD HELGESON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 20, 2013 - 6:12 AM

Support is strongest among young, urban Democrats, with opposition throughout rural areas and among older voters, the Minnesota Poll finds.

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May 9, 2013: Advocates for both sides chant, sing and plead as they line the entrance to the House floor while the House takes up the same-sex marriage bill.

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Minnesotans are evenly divided on same-sex marriage about a month after state leaders legalized such nuptials, a new Star Tribune Minnesota Poll has found.

The poll shows that 46 percent of Minnesotans support legislators’ efforts to legalize same-sex marriage, while 44 percent are opposed. Another 10 percent remain undecided.

Factoring in the margin of error, the results show that Minnesotans remain deeply and evenly divided over an issue that has gripped the state for two years.

Supporters are encouraged by a shift toward acceptance of same-sex marriage since a similar poll in late February, when only 38 percent thought legislators should change the law to allow such unions.

“More and more Minnesotans are coming to the realization that limiting the freedom to marry doesn’t agree with the core values of the state,” said Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United, the group that led the lobbying effort to legalize same-sex marriage. “That’s only going to continue to grow over the next year and the next 10 years.”

Minnesota is in the midst of a profound and rapid political transformation on the issue. Two years ago, Republicans who controlled the Legislature proposed a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Voters defeated the measure, voted out numerous Republican lawmakers and handed DFLers full control at the Capitol. In a dramatic turn, Democrats last month made Minnesota the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage. Gay and lesbian couples can begin marrying in Minnesota Aug. 1.

Opponents of same-sex marriage say the poll reaffirms their core belief that most Minnesotans do not believe gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to wed.

“The majority of the state was not behind it,” said Autumn Leva, a spokeswoman for Minnesota for Marriage, the lead group trying to block same-sex marriage. “This was a push by a few same-sex marriage lobbyists and a lot of money to press through something that was not the will of the people at all.”

The poll sampled 800 Minnesota adults June 11-13, by land line and cellphone. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. The sample included 36 percent self-identified Democrats, 30 percent Republicans and 29 percent independents.

Dividing lines

The Twin Cities continued to be the strongest hub of support for same-sex marriage.

Sixty-six percent of those in Hennepin and Ramsey counties support lawmakers’ action. Just 22 percent of respondents in those counties opposed the decision.

Residents in Twin Cities suburbs and outstate Minnesota strongly oppose the new marriage law.

In the suburbs, 53 percent oppose the change and 37 percent say lawmakers made the right decision. Outstate, opposition is slightly stronger, with 54 percent saying they don’t think gay and lesbians should be allowed to marry.

“I’m not happy with it. I don’t agree with it,” said Hinckley resident Jessie Kordiak.

Kordiak worries what effect legalization of same-sex marriage will have on the state, particularly in the schools.

“I don’t know, maybe now polygamy should be legal. Where do we draw the line? First cousins? Second cousins? I think it opens up a whole can of worms,” he said. “I have a feeling that now the schools are going to promote it and start teaching it to our kids. I just think there are a lot of things they didn’t really think through.”

  • How the poll was conducted

    Today’s Star Tribune Minnesota Poll findings are based on interviews conducted June 11-13 with 800 Minnesota adults via land line (79 percent) and cellphone (21 percent). The poll was conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling and Research Inc.

    Results of a poll based on 800 interviews will vary by no more than 3.5 percentage points, plus or minus, from the overall population 95 times out of 100. Margins are larger for groups within the sample, such as Democrats and Republicans.

    The self-identified party affiliation of the random sample is: 36 percent Democrat, 30 percent Republican, 29 percent independent or other party and 5 percent who said “none.”

    Sampling error does not take into account other sources of variation inherent in public opinion surveys, such as nonresponse, question wording or context effects. In addition, news events may have affected opinions during the period the poll was taken.

    Readers can e-mail questions to djmcgrath@startribune.com.

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