Most Kentuckians still back gay marriage ban, yet gap narrows


by Joe Arnold

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Updated Friday, Feb 7 at 8:01 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- Nearly a decade after 74% of Kentuckians voted for a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriages and civil unions, 55% of Kentuckians in a new WHAS11/Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll now oppose gay marriage.

Do you favor or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry in Kentucky? 

35%    Favor
55%    Oppose
10%    Not Sure

Asked of 1082 registered voters
Margin of Sampling Error for this question = ± 3%

"The public opinion battle over marriage has not been won in Kentucky," acknowledged gay rights activist Chris Hartman, Director of the Fairness Campaign.  "But that issue has already been decided."

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act's federal ban on gay marriage, perhaps opening the door to pending court challenges against state gay marriage bans, like Kentucky's.

Neither supporters or opponents said they are surprised by the trend toward more acceptance of same sex marriage.

"When the people who favor same sex marriage have control of basically every cultural institution, government, academia and the media, it only makes sense that opinions would change," said same sex marriage opponent Martin Cothran, a senior policy analyst at the
Family Foundation of Kentucky.

"But we don't think they're going to change in Kentucky to the point where people will be too much different than they were in 2004 when we passed the marriage amendment," Cothran added.

Driving the gaining acceptance of gay and lesbian marriage in Kentucky are young people.  Those between 18 and 34 are the only age category in our poll whose majority favor allowing same sex marriage -- 47 to 46 percent.

Asked of 18-34 year old registered voters
Do you favor or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry in Kentucky? 
47%    Favor
46%    Oppose
7%    Not Sure

But look at their parents.  Kentuckians between 50 and 64 years old oppose same sex marriage by a nearly 2-1 margin.

Asked of 50-64 year old registered voters
Do you favor or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry in Kentucky? 
32%    Favor
60%    Oppose
9%    Not Sure

"The emergent generation, this is a non-issue for them," Hartman said.  "To be honest, the majority of those young people have LGBT people in their lives."

Hartman predicted that as younger people get older, they will carry their acceptance of gay marriage with them.

Citing what's called the "family gap" in statistics, Cothran said people get more conservative as they age.

"It's what you would expect," Cothran said.  "As people get older, they get more conservative.  As they form families, they get more conservative. So this isn't really surprising."

To see the result of the poll, click here.