Same-sex union support would cost OBA votes
The Bermuda Government would lose support from potential voters if it spearheaded legalising same-sex marriage, according to a new poll commissioned by The Royal Gazette.
In the Global Research survey, carried out this month, 28 per cent of registered voters said their opinion of the Government would decline if it pushed for such a move, with 19 per cent saying their opinion would improve.
The largest proportion, 48 per cent, said their that view of the Government would not change, with the rest either unsure or refusing to answer.
It comes as a new political poll, carried out simultaneously by Global Research, shows the One Bermuda Alliance and the Progressive Labour Party are neck-and-neck, both attracting 35 per cent of the vote.
A breakdown of the results suggests that by pursuing same-sex marriage the Government would face its biggest vote losses among men, blacks, PLP supporters and the highly religious:
• Among men, 17 per cent said their opinion of the Government would improve and 31 per cent said it would decline; among women, 20 per cent said their opinion would improve and 25 per cent said it would decline.
• Among blacks, 10 per cent said that their opinion would improve and 37 per cent said it would decline; among whites, 34 per cent said their opinion would improve and 12 per cent said it would decline.
• Among PLP supporters, 4 per cent said that their opinion would improve and 39 per cent said it would decline; among OBA supporters, 38 per cent said their opinion would improve and 10 per cent said it would decline.
• Among those describing themselves as highly religious, 10 per cent said that their opinion would improve and 46 per cent said it would decline; among those describing themselves as not very religious, 33 per cent said their opinion would improve and 17 per cent said it would decline.
The poll was carried out after the Government received a petition calling for the legalisation of same-sex marriage, and held public information sessions on the issue.
As reported in 'The Royal Gazette' yesterday, our poll found 48 per cent of people were in favour of legalising same-sex marriage, with 44 per cent against; and 59 per cent said society should accept homosexuality, with 26 per cent saying it should oppose it.
Wide-ranging questions on the subject also showed that Bermuda residents had some different beliefs to those expressed in a similar survey in the United States.
In a study carried out by the Pew Research Centre in June, 60 per cent of Americans said it was not possible for a person to change their sexual orientation.
However, in Bermuda, the new survey found 39 per cent of residents believe somebody's sexual orientation could not be changed.
In the US, 47 per cent of people believed that people are born homosexual, with 40 per cent believing it is a lifestyle choice; in Bermuda 37 per cent said they believe people are born homosexual, with 40 per cent believing it is a lifestyle choice.
The telephone survey commissioned by this newspaper polled 410 residents from a variety of backgrounds between October 6 and October 13. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 per cent.
Overall, 66 per cent of residents polled said they believed the issue of same-sex marriage should be important to the Government, while 27 per cent felt it should not be very important.
The great majority of those who ranked the issue unimportant, 74 per cent, felt that more pressing issues, such as the economy and unemployment, were of higher priority. Human rights came top on the list of reasons for believing it was an important issue for the Government to address.
The poll also explored residents' attitudes to children and homosexuality.
Asked how they would react if their child said they were gay, 53 per cent said they would be upset, with the top reasons being homosexuality is at odds with their religion, that they do not believe it is right, and that they would worry about the challenges the child would face from society.
At 59 per cent, the majority of those who said they would not be upset told pollsters that they loved and accepted their children unconditionally and wanted them to be happy. Others said it was their children's right, or that people were born gay or lesbian and did not have a choice.
Asked if they would allow a homosexual person to babysit their child, 52 per cent indicated that they would. Women, the non-religious and college graduates were more likely to say yes, while a breakdown by race shows 78 per cent of whites said yes compared with 37 per cent of blacks.
Less than half, or 47 per cent, supported allowing gays or lesbians to adopt, while 36 per cent opposed it.
The top reasons given for objecting were that it would cause confusion for children, and that they should have parents of both genders.
Friday marks the deadline for residents to make their views on same-sex marriage heard: opinions are being solicited by the Ministry of Community, Culture and Sport. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.