Poll: support for same-sex marriage
More Bermudians support same-sex marriage than oppose it, according to a survey commissioned by The Royal Gazette.
The poll by Global Research this month found 48 per cent were in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, with 44 per cent against. By comparison, 57 per cent of Americans have said they are in favour, with 39 per cent against.
Among those in support in Bermuda, 80 per cent said homosexuals ought to be afforded equal rights or the freedom to choose who they love.
When asked for a reason for their opposition to same-sex marriage, 51 per cent said that it goes against their religion, and a further 27 per cent responded that they just did not support it.
Non-religious people, women, whites and college graduates were all more likely to be in favour of same-sex marriage, according to the poll.
The telephone survey asked more than 400 registered voters a wide range of questions on the topic, which was thrust into the spotlight once more when the Bermuda Government launched a series of public information sessions about legalising same-sex marriage last month.
In May, the Government was presented with a petition calling for such unions to be recognised.
According to the new research, 59 per cent believed society should accept homosexuality, with 26 per cent saying society should oppose it.
The top reasons for accepting homosexuality were accepting people for who they are and equal rights; the top reasons for opposing it were the Bible and the belief that homosexuality is wrong or unnatural. To compare Bermuda’s results with trends in the United States, many of the questions were adapted from an American poll conducted in June by the Pew Research Centre. Americans polled by the Pew Centre were 63 per cent in favour of tolerance for homosexuality.
More than half of people polled in Bermuda — 60 per cent — said they personally knew “some” people who were gay or lesbian. Nine out of ten knew at least one person residing in Bermuda who was homosexual.
Civil unions, which are generally understood to be analogous with same-sex marriage but with fewer legally sanctioned benefits, had the backing of 50 per cent of those polled, versus 37 per cent against.
When asked which locations they would support as venues for same-sex marriage ceremonies, 48 per cent said private halls and venues, 47 per cent agreed with public parks and beaches, and 30 per cent agreed with churches.
However, the largest proportion, 51 per cent, responded that they just do not support gay marriage ceremonies. Overall, 52 per cent said that the issue of same-sex marriage was important to them — similar to the 54 per cent of Americans who responded to the Pew survey.
Consistent with earlier surveys was Bermuda’s sharp racial divide on the issue: 75 per cent of whites favoured same-sex marriages, against 31 per cent of blacks; 81 per cent of whites felt homosexuality ought to be accepted, versus 46 per cent of blacks.
Women were more likely than men to support same-sex marriage, with 51 per cent in favour compared with 43 per cent of men.
Of those describing themselves as “highly religious”, 24 per cent were in favour of same-sex marriage, with 71 per cent against. Among the “moderately religious”, 57 per cent were in favour, with 29 per cent against; among the “not very religious”, 71 per cent were in favour, with 24 per cent against.
Education emerged as another determining factor: 37 per cent of people with an education level of high school or less were in favour of same-sex marriage, compared with 44 per cent of people who described themselves as having “some college” background, and 56 per cent of those who graduated from college.
Global Research’s poll of 410 voters across a range of ages, education levels, race and gender took place between October 6 and October 13. It has a margin of error of plus or minor 5 per cent.
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