By L.A. Williams, CAL Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH – If, as the late George Gallup proclaimed, opinion surveys reveal the “true pulse of democracy,” North Carolina lawmakers should take to heart results of two recent polls showing nearly three out of four voters support a Marriage Protection Amendment.
Announced Tuesday by the North Carolina Family Policy Council, results of a live caller poll conducted by Virginia-based Advantage Inc., showed that 73 percent of voters would support an amendment to the N.C. Constitution defining marriage as “the union of one man and one woman.” The poll echoed results from a survey of voters released in February by the John W. Pope Civitas Institute which found 76 percent in support of such an amendment.
“There is no question that Tar Heel voters want the opportunity to protect marriage as the bedrock of society, as have voters in every other state in the Southeast,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League of North Carolina. “We urge legislative leaders to hear the voice of the people and allow the Defense of Marriage Bill to be heard.”
Senate Bill 272 and its House companion (H 361) would let voters decide in November whether to add an amendment to the State Constitution to reaffirm the definition of marriage and thereby strengthen the state’s laws against legal attacks from same-sex couples or others trying to redefine the sacred institution.
Already 14 states surrounding North Carolina from Texas to Virginia and Kansas to Florida have added Marriage Protection Amendments to their constitutions, with an average voter approval of more than 74 percent – nearly identical to the N.C. Family Policy Council and Civitas polls. Both are in contrast with results of a poll released by Elon University claiming the state is equally split on the issue of a Marriage Protection Amendment.
“A careful analysis of the Elon poll reveals that this is a mischaracterization of the findings,” said Tami Fitzgerald, executive director of NC4Marriage. “In fact, the overwhelming majority – or nearly 75 percent – of the 620 adults who participated in the Elon poll were opposed to same-sex ‘marriage.'”
Fitzgerald pointed out that 28 percent said they support civil unions or domestic partnerships but not gay marriage, while 46.9 percent opposed any legal recognition for same sex couples.
“Taken together, that is a total of 74.9 percent of respondents who said they do not support marriage for same-sex couples,” she said.
The Elon poll, released earlier in March, used negative phrasing in its survey question about the Marriage Protection Amendment and included a leading set-up to another question referencing existing marriage laws, Fitzgerald said. Bill Brooks, president of the Family Policy Council described the Elon effort as “what some would term a ‘push poll.'”
Of more interest to lawmakers should be the fact that the Civitas and the North Carolina Family Policy Council polls went a step further to see how voters would respond to legislators who support the Marriage Protection Amendment. The NCFPC poll showed 71 percent would be more likely to vote for a legislative candidate who supported a Marriage Protection Amendment. Similarly, 64 percent of those in the Civitas poll said they would be less likely to vote for a lawmaker who refused to sponsor legislation allowing a referendum on defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
“Support for a constitutional amendment on marriage in North Carolina cuts across all groups and demographics,” said Francis De Luca, executive director of the Civitas Institute in a press release about his organization’s poll. “Combined with the two-thirds of voters who said they would consider voting against a legislator for not supporting legislation on a marriage amendment makes this a potential hot button issue in the next election.”
The Civitas poll included registered voters who had voted in the 2004, 2006 or 2008 elections or were newly registered since last year. The NCFPC poll went still further to include a breakdown by legislative district so that lawmakers could see the support among their own constituents.
“Our poll is unique in that it is a large enough sample to give valid results by legislative district,” said Brooks in a press release. “The results show that the majority of voters in every Senate district and nearly every House district support the Marriage Protection Amendment.”
In contrast, the poll by Elon University involved phone calls to 620 North Carolina residents, without regard as to whether they were eligible voters.
The NCFPC poll also questioned voters as to whether or not homosexuality should be taught in public schools as a normal and acceptable behavior. The vast majority – 84 percent – opposed such teaching. Unfortunately, it is already a reality in some school systems and the ultimate outcome unless marriage laws are backed with a constitutional amendment.
“These findings show that by overwhelming margins, voters in North Carolina do not support the promotion of homosexuality in the classroom, and we think legislators should take note of that as they debate and vote on these important issues,” Brooks said.
A private institution of higher learning, Elon has no problem promoting LGBT issues. A recipient of a $7,000 grant from the Guilford Green Foundation, the Elon University Student Life and Multi Cultural Center sponsors LGBT Allies, a group of 22 faculty and staff members who mentor students who have chosen an LGBT lifestyle. Two allies will be featured speakers on bisexuality next month at the Southeastern Regional Unity Conference, an annual gathering of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer identified people.” Elon is one of fewer than 10 North Carolina colleges and universities that offer employees full domestic partner benefits.