After releasing poll data showing a 10-point increase in support for same-sex marriage among Illinoisans, the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University released new data Monday showing a majority of Illinois Catholics also approve of gay and lesbian unions.
The data shows that slightly fewer Catholics approve of full marriage equality than the state as a whole, but that a smaller percentage of Catholics disapprove of same-sex unions than the rest of the state.
The new poll crosstabs, shared with capitolfax.com, indicate that 81 percent of Catholics surveyed support either full marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples or the right to a civil union. Specifically, 39.9 percent said they support marriage rights and 40.1 percent said their position is for same-sex couples to have civil unions. Only 15.7 percent said there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships.
Last week, the same poll found that 43.6 percent of Illinois residents approve of full marriage equality, 31.8 percent preferred civil unions and 20.2 percent said there should be no legal recognition. In 2010, the same poll reported 33.6 percent of people were in favor of marriage rights.
“I think the numbers show striking shifts in public opinion,” said Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) of the poll data last week. Harris is a longtime proponent of marriage equality in Illinois and has spearheaded several bills in the legislature to achieve marriage equality rights, including the successful civil unions bill in 2010.
“The data shows that this is not undecided voters making up their minds, but rather previous opponents shifting their positions on long held beliefs,” he said.