Poll: Support growing in South for marriage equality

gay-equalityOn the heels of the launch of Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, a $1 million public education campaign to grow support for marriage in the South, a new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows a majority (50%) of people in the South support same-sex couples’ freedom to marry, with 42% opposed. A record-high 59% of Americans nationwide support marriage for gay couples.

“Southerners are increasingly on a journey in support of the freedom to marry,” said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. “At its core, marriage is about love and family – deeply ingrained southern values. And religious freedom is protected – no church has to marry anyone they don’t want to. Allowing same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry the person they love is the right thing to do on moral and constitutional grounds.”

The Post poll was conducted after a series of recent high-profile marriage wins in southern states, with landmark marriage rulings by federal judges in Kentucky, Texas, Virginia, and Oklahoma.

Other key findings from the poll include:

• Southerners are evenly split on whether the part of the Constitution that provides Americans equal protection under the law gives or does not give gay people the right to marry: 46% believe it does, while 45% say it does not.
• 71% think gay people can be as good parents as straight people, and only 24% disagree.
• 78% of Southerners think businesses should not be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian people, while 18% think they should be allowed.

Last month, Freedom to Marry launched Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, which includes significant field and media work over the next year in partnership with supportive organizations across the region, and includes bipartisan co-chairs such as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), and George W. Bush advisor Mark McKinnon from Texas. According to 2010 Census Bureau data, same-sex couples raising children are more common in the South than in any other region of the country.

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