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WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll: Opposition to gay marriage declining in Ky.

by Joe Arnold


Posted on July 29, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 29 at 6:23 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- As federal courts in rapid succession strike down gay marriage bans, opposition to same-sex marriage continues to decline in Kentucky, according to a new WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll.

714 registered voters
Margin of Error ± 3.7%
Do you favor or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry in Kentucky?
37% Favor
50% Oppose
12% Not Sure

Fifty percent of poll respondents say they are opposed to same-sex marriage.  In 2004, 75 percent of Kentucky voters voted for to amend the state constitution to add a gay marriage ban.

37 percent, slightly more than the February poll, say they approve of gay marriage in the WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, also sponsored by the Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV.  Conducted by Survey USA July 18 through July 23, the poll identified 714 registered voters for its issue questions.

"The gains may not be massive but steadily, and really sort of quickly, it's been increasing in support not just in Kentucky but across the entire nation," said Chris Hartman of the Fairness Campaign.

"The margin is still greatly in favor of constitutional definition of marriage," countered
Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for the Family Foundation of Kentucky.  "If this were an election, people would call it a landslide."

But Cothran concedes that the trend is toward acceptance of gay marriage.

"I think you're seeing a shift in people's views on it," Cothran said.  "But if people's conservative views on social issues ran Hollywood and the media and academia, you'd see a shift the other direction."

Hartman agreed that publicity in the mainstream media has contributed toward the trend toward acceptance of gay marriage.

"As the momentum grows, as folks' human stories come out in the media more, and folks are able to connect with LGBT people on a human level, then we win," Hartman said.

Allow gay marriage in Kentucky?
Voters 18-34
49% Favor
39% Oppose
12% Not Sure

The poll marks a generational  divide.


Voters between 18 and 34 are the only age group that supports same-sex marriage in Kentucky - by a ten point margin.

Allow gay marriage in Kentucky?
Voters 35-49
40% Favor
45% Oppose
15% Not Sure

But those between 35 and 49 oppose it -- by a five point margin...


Allow gay marriage in Kentucky?
Voters 50-64
38% Favor
50% Oppose
11% Not Sure

And the older voters get, more of them oppose gay marriage.  Those between 50 and 64 reflect the overall poll numbers, fifty percent opposed.

 Allow gay marriage in Kentucky?
Voters 65+
25% Favor
65% Oppose
10% Not Sure

Kentucky seniors are most against it. 65 percent of those 65 and older are opposed while 25 percent are in favor.

"Younger people are always more liberal than older people, that's always been the case," Cothran said.  "But the interersting thing is younger people get older.  And the other interesting thing is younger people start getting married, and when you get married you become more conservative on issues."

"That's actually not what we see," Hartman said.  "There's plenty of support in the older demographics.  Certainly, the very end of the spectrum right now we are lacking some support, but in the 50 plus range and eveything below, we're definitely seeing substantial gains."

The views of Kentucky citizens may be a non-factor. A federal court ruling in Louisville earlier this month struck down Kentucky's ban on gay marriage, but Judge John Heyburn stayed his ruling pending a decision by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals on gay marriage cases from four different states.

Those cases are scheduled to be argued on Wednesday, August 6 in Cincinnati.

"Our main take on this is that (the poll) doesn't matter," Cothran said, "because this issue has been taken out of the hands of voters by unelected federal judges so voters don't have a say in this issue anymore."

Cothran said the 6th Circuit "has been more common sense on this issue" so he is relatively optimistic that it would conclude that "you can't manufacture rights."

"We know that once folks are out of the closet, that the people around them who love them, their friends and their family, their co-workers, that this becomes a non-issue," Hartman said, "not for everyone but for most folks that once they know someone who is LGBT, their support for all LGBT civil rights issues grow."

The poll shows that the Louisville region is the only part of Kentucky where those in favor of allowing gay marriage outnumber those opposed (46% - 43%).

Eastern Kentucky harbors the greatest oppostion, with 64 percent opposed and only 28 percent in favor.