What Rhode Island Thinks

A recent survey of Rhode Island voters shows steady support since 2006 for legalizing same-sex marriage. Moreover, support for the specific marriage equality bill facing RI’s General Assembly also remains strong and stable.

Majority Supports Marriage Equality in Rhode Island

Poll: Majority Supports Marriage Equality in Rhode Island
59 percent support cuts across age, religion, political affiliation

Results of a new poll show that 59 percent of Rhode Island voters support allowing same-sex couples to legally marry in the state. This marks the first time a majority of voters voiced support for marriage equality since advocates began polling on the issue in 2006, and represents a 10 percent increase in support from the last poll conducted in 2008.

“This poll makes clear that we are ready to enact a marriage equality law in Rhode Island now,” said Kathy Kushnir, executive director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI). “Rhode Islanders are ready to allow loving, committed same-sex couples to gain the dignity, respect, legal rights and protection that marriage brings. That is great news.”

The survey of 502 likely voters in Rhode Island was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research July 7 – 12, 2010. The margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent.

“As many of Rhode Island’s sister states have implemented marriage equality, the majority support we see in this poll is not all that surprising,” said Dave Walker, vice president at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research. “Rhode Island voters are clearly ready for change.”

Rhode Island and Maine are the only New England states that do not permit same-sex couples to legally marry.

Majority support for marriage equality in Rhode Island reflects a growth in support nationally for allowing same-sex couples to marry legally. In a nationwide CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll earlier this month, 52 percent of respondents agreed when asked, “Do you think gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid?” It is the first national poll in which a majority of Americans voiced support for equal marriage rights.

Among the Rhode Island poll’s major findings:

• The new pro-equality majority is demographically diverse. It includes Catholics (57 percent), women over 50 (56 percent), independent voters (58 percent) and parents (64 percent).

• Support increases further with First Amendment reassurance. When told that marriage equality would not infringe on a church’s right to marry whom they choose, support increases to 66 percent overall and 63 percent among Catholics.

• Politically, this is a net positive vote for state lawmakers. Asked about the impact of a vote for equality on their support for, 27 percent say they would be more inclined to support a candidate, 24 percent are less inclined, and nearly half (46 percent) say it would make no difference. Just 13 percent are much less likely to support a pro-equality candidate.

• In Rhode Island, the LGBT community is the mainstream.  Overall, 79 percent of voters here know a gay or lesbian person and 45 percent describe their feeling toward gay and lesbian people as favorable, while just 18 percent are critical. Seventy-five percent believe “homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society.”

Read the poll results