February 23, 2011 11:46 am ET - by Carlos Maza
A majority of Rhode Islanders are in favor of marriage equality, according to a new poll from Public Policy Poling (PPP). 50% of respondents were in favor of "allow(ing) gay and lesbian couples to marry legally," while 41% were opposed (9% with no opinion).
Unsurprisingly, the poll results demonstrated that marriage equality is still largely a generational issue, with younger voters strongly in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. From the PPP blog:
Rhode Island is another state where this breaks down very much as a generational issue. Only senior citizens, by a 48/39 margin, are opposed to legalizing same sex marriage. Young voters (under 30) support it 62/31, and middle aged voters (31 to 65) favor it by a 51/42 spread. It's not going to be too long before the simple aging of the US population produces a lasting pro-gay marriage majority. The people who are opposed to it are gradually dying out and being replaced in the electorate by voters who are perfectly comfortable with it.
The poll's results are even more encouraging when one considers the method by which PPP conducts its surveys. Public Policy Polling relies on automated polling - polls in which a person presses a button on a phone keypad instead of talking to a real person. According to Tom Jensen, director of PPP, this approach tends to deflate public opinion of LGBT issues. From a previous PPP blog entry:
Why the disparity between automated and live interviewer polls on gay marriage? Americans are still biased against gay people...but some of them know that's wrong and they shouldn't be. Because of that they're more likely to tell their true feelings on an automated poll where there's no social anxiety concern than to a live interviewer who they may be worried about the reaction of.
The poll results should help guide state legislators currently considering a proposed bill to legalize same-sex marriage. As the PPP blog post concludes:
If Rhode Island legislators want to stay on the right side of public opinion they'll pass the bill.
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