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Poll: Ohio voters likely to support gay marriage if religious exemption included

BOB VITALE | Outlook Columbus
Friday, December 20, 2013

Ohio voters are split on the idea of same-sex marriage, but they’re far more likely to support it if know religious institutions won’t be forced to wed gay and lesbian couples, a new poll finds.

The poll of 1,011 registered voters released Thursday found 52 percent would vote for, and 38 percent would vote against, a proposed Freedom to Marry and Religious Freedom Amendment to the Ohio Constitution once they’re read its language.

gay-marriageSupport rose to 56 percent and opposition dropped to 34 percent when voters were told specifically that the amendment protects religious liberties.

Asked simply whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, Ohioans were divided: 47 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed.

“Ohio voters like concepts, but they vote on specifics,” said Ian James, executive director of Freedom Ohio, which commissioned the poll taken Dec. 6-8 by Public Policy Polling. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

“They want to make sure people can go to the courthouses to get married. But it’s very clear Ohioans want to protect religious freedom.”

Freedom Ohio is collecting signatures to put the Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom Amendment on the November 2014 state ballot. James said the group has passed the 386,000 required but wants to turn in 1 million signatures to Secretary of State Jon Husted.

The poll boosts the argument of those who back a 2014 vote and say that Ohio has changed dramatically since 2004, when a marriage ban was voted into the state constitution with 62 percent support.

But it also gives ammunition to skeptics within the LGBT community by underscoring the need for a well-funded campaign that can get the support-boosting specifics to voters.

Freedom Ohio has raised barely $56,000 since it started in 2012 and has survived on more than $700,000 in free help from James, a veteran political strategist, and others.

James said he’s not sure how much a campaign will cost – “Will it cost $10 million? Will it cost $15 million? I don’t know the answer to that question right now” – but he said he’s certain donors will come aboard.

“They want to see it’s a winnable issue,” he said.

The poll will help him make that case to donors, but he said it wasn’t commissioned to produce a desired result. Public Policy Polling is considered a Democratic-leaning firm, but a Fordham University study said its results were the most reliable of the 2012 presidential race.

Freedom Ohio had two outside pollsters – Democrat Jim Kitchens and Republican Robert Carpenter review the questions and results.

Among its other findings:

  • 57 percent of women favored the amendment when told its specifics. Men remained split, though, 46 percent for and 46 percent against.
  • Asian-American voters were most likely to support the amendment: 58 percent, to 20 percent opposed. African-American voters support the amendment, 56 percent to 35 percent opposed. White voters favored the amendment 52 percent to 39 percent. Latino voters were the most opposed: 24 in favor and 63 percent opposed.

  • People in their 30s are the strongest amendment supporters, 61 percent to 31 percent opposed. Voters 18-29 favor the amendment, 54 percent to 42 percent. Voters in their 50s (54 percent) were more likely supporters than those in their 40s (52 percent). Support was under 50 percent among voters over 60.

  • Urban (63 percent) and suburban voters (60 percent) are far more likely to support the amendment than small-town (46 percent) and rural voters (42 percent).

  • Geographically, the amendment has the most support in Columbus and Central Ohio, where 57 percent are in favor and 37 percent oppose. A total of 54 percent support the amendment in Cincinnati and southwestern Ohio, and support is at 52 percent in Toledo and northwestern Ohio. It’s below 50 percent in Cleveland and northeastern Ohio (49 percent in favor, 36 percent opposed) and in southeastern Ohio (47 percent).

  • 76 percent of strong Democrats and 63 percent of those who lean Democratic support the amendment; 54 percent of strong Republicans oppose and 36 percent support the amendment, while 49 percent of those who lean Republican support the amendment and 43 percent oppose it.

  • 44 percent statewide said they believe marriage equality is inevitable.


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    An LGBTQ Nation media partner.
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103 more reader comments:

  1. They haven’t been forced anywhere else, so why would they be in this case?

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:17pm
  2. I like to make the point that racist churches aren't forced to perform interracial marriages, and churches aren't forced to perform interfaith marriages if they don't allow it. The First Amendment guarantess all churches the freedom to practice their religion as they choose, and no marriage equality bill could ever override that.

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:57pm
  3. be prepared for dwindelling churchgoers...lol

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:37pm
  4. why should we allow exemptions? Why should we pander to the kid toucher crowd?

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:19pm
  5. ALL religious institutions should NOT get ANY TAX BREAKS – AT ALL.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:20pm
  6. Of course the TAX ATTORNEYS would fight that idea, because they would lose their jobs…

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:22pm
  7. Allow exemptions so that we can at least get this going. We can fight for that later. One step at a time.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:22pm
  8. But, no church is mandated to do so, not even in Massachusetts

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:22pm
  9. what religious institute in this country has ever been forced to marry people they didn’t want to? This shows a serious lack of civics education in this country.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:23pm
  10. You've pegged it.

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:53pm
  11. @Joel Mickelin: Exactly. It’s like when you offer something to your kids. You make it so they think they’re getting a deal even though you’re not actually giving them one. :)

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:23pm
  12. I would say any way that it comes….but…..yeah, after testifying in a week long trial as a clergy abuse survivor…NO!! They can relocate sexual offenders, but NOT celebrate real, true love?…..hmmm…Ohio, i ask….What WOULD Jesus do?!?

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:25pm
  13. Courthouses are not churches. They should not get an exemption from doing their jobs. Divorce goes against the Christian beliefs, but no one would get an exemption for that either.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:25pm
  14. I didn’t know they were forcing churches in other places? I know that no one is forcing them here. Personally I avoid churches that don’t like gay people and definitely would not ask them to marry me and the wife.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:25pm
  15. Separate church from state…wow…brilliant idea…wait…didn’t we come up with that in the 1930′s or something???

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:26pm
  16. Right to marry without all the strings , come on

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:26pm
  17. The fact that it may be legal in our state is plenty for me! I don’t expect a church to open their doors or be forced to do something (legally) that they don’t agree with and risk a lawsuit by refusing. That’s not the point … having the rights of any married couple is the point (insurance, retirement, taxes, estate, etc) and having our marriage be equal to any other marriage is the point. The wedding is one day, the marriage is for a lifetime. #SameLove #PickYourBattles

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:27pm
  18. Churches should NOT be forced into it…the gay community should be smart enough to not contribute or be members of the churches that discriminate…give it to the churches that are open and welcoming…you’ll find there are programs there that are more fitting for the gay community too…. Look up the UCC!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:28pm
  19. we should just be able to marry without giving things to different groups.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:28pm
  20. My partner and I married in DC with gay minister in his home. Because we live in a state that doesn’t recognize same sex marriage. It was a nice service that we could afford.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:29pm
  21. nobody is trying to forcve religious institutions to get invloved just government religion is a separate right

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:30pm
  22. This is an utterly ridiculous and totally unnecessary “exemption”. NO religious organization will be forced to marry gays if it goes against their faith! You dont see people forcing the Catholic church to marry divorced people, do you? And divorce is legal in all 50 states…

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:30pm
  23. They call us Godless because we don’t go to their church but they want to exclude us. LOL! Fuck ‘em!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:32pm
  24. We have the 1st Amendment that is your stupid religious exemption!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:37pm
  25. watch the campaign in Ohio pander to these people just like they do everywhere else. so embarrassing

    Replied on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:29pm
  26. This is called a compromise and I applaud them for attempting it

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:37pm
  27. Churches already can choose on straight couples. We are working for equal rights, but not including that it would be giving us special rights

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:38pm
  28. Plus it’s not infringing in the religious freedoms at the same time.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:38pm
  29. I’d tell them to suck my dick! I have tried to not let my anger get the best of me,but at this point it is 2013 almost 2014 and I am shocked that this is still a issue!
    I love how they said “force” them to marry gay couples. What? Ministers now with a man and woman can say they won’t marry a couple for a number of reasons! No gay couple would want a homophobic “man or woman of God” to marry them anyways.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:43pm
  30. Yes,please applauded them for their compromise on MY right I should already have! Smh! Sad!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:44pm
  31. Its redundant to exempt what’s already been exempted by the constitution under freedom of religion: religions do not have to perform any ceremonies that are against its doctrine and cannot be forced to do such. THEY ALREADY HAVE THIS IN FEDERAL LAW.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:46pm
  32. I didn’t realize that marriage was forced onto churches. Mind blown.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:46pm
  33. The sad truth is that a lot of these uneducated people out there have been intentionally misinformed by fear mongers. I’ve seen the Facebook comments myself where they claim that ministers have been forced to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. We all know this is completely untrue, but they have been told this lie over and over again by Fox News and the conservative pundits. The other issue is what exactly constitutes a religious institution. This is the same issue that has come up in the whole Hobby Lobby lawsuit over the healthcare laws. I have no problem with churches being considered religious institutions; that’s a no-brainer. But conservatives want to broaden the definition of religious institution to include any business run by someone who claims to be religious. That is something I have a huge issue with.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:46pm
  34. So true Grant. What if GE suddenly becomes Christian Science and doesn’t have to provide healthcare for any of its workers. Or worse, refusing to allow workers to seek medical treatment on their own. It’s a creepy prospect, indeed!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:53pm
  35. Jake Fundahn check out the fags :P

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:58pm
  36. Oh yeah. It seems like common sense has gone out the window completely. Like I said, a lot of the people out there are simply misinformed. They’re not necessarily bad people who harbor any ill will toward the LGBT community. They simply haven’t been educated and told the truth about the issues we face.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 4:59pm
  37. Being from Ohio I can see why a lot of people are like this. This state is FULL of religious people but it’s also full of the LGBT community. We are all over this state. A lot of the mindsets are being changed because of how many LGBT people there are in Ohio. My grandparents don’t understand it but are all for me being happy. It’s all about changing hearts. This doesn’t seem like a huge step to outsiders but to the LGBT community in Ohio it’s a MAJOR step.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:09pm
  38. Why can’t they just pass something like Brown vs Board of Education and make Marriage Equality the law in ALL 50 states and territories even if the religious cretins and southern hicks don’t like it?! -_-

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:17pm
  39. Gregory, I’m a Southerner. Calling us hicks does nothing to contribute toward a s

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:20pm
  40. A religious exemption still allows anyone to discriminate.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:20pm
  41. Gregory, I’m a Southerner. Calling us hicks does nothing to contribute to a solution to these issues. It only makes you sound like an ass who’s just as prejudiced as the people you’re frustrated about.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:22pm
  42. Also, how can you “pass” something like Brown vs Board of Education? It was a court decision, not a piece of legislation.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:24pm
  43. Every step to every state to every country around the world is a victory in our fight for equality.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:25pm
  44. God loves each and every one of us. It is for reasons like this that I do not practice any religion, only a love for God. SMH. EVERYONE deserves to love and be loved. I know plenty two spirited people that take marriage a lot more serious than ‘strait’ people and they can’t marry freely? SMH

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 5:35pm
  45. it’s dumb this would even need to be an exception. no one would want to be married by someone unwilling. smh……stupid. anyway good so many people are willing to say yes we should all have the same rights

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 6:03pm
  46. So much for unconditional love…

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 6:20pm
  47. This is how it should be! No religion involved unless they so desire!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 6:29pm
  48. as long as we can stop paying their way and since they are not forced anywhere else i dont see what the problem is. this group does nothing but whine and cry. they are just pathetic

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 6:33pm
  49. People that already enjoy these rights, shouldnt be voting on them for others

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 6:52pm
  50. I won’t take a backseat to a bunch of religious fanatics!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 6:57pm
  51. I am Unitarian…we dont harm people for love and marriage..we embrace human beings for being human..and gay people worship and prayer and marry just like other humans..to deny humans marriage and religion is the sin

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 7:02pm
  52. Ban religion, and the world will be so much better.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 7:31pm
  53. *head desk* No one has ever suggested forcing religious institutions to perform same-sex marriages. It’s a strawman cooked up by the right-wingers to move fence-sitters to their side. And apparently it worked. Gah, people are stupid.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 7:42pm
  54. well of cource. duh!!! don’t be so stupid….good night nurse!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:02pm
  55. Religious organizations have never been forced to perform a wedding ceremony against their will. More propaganda from the American Taliban.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:15pm
  56. … And people wonder why some think that religion is a joke?

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:17pm
  57. …oh religion…what a pain in the lifes of many people including bigots…

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:24pm
  58. What religious exemption? I don’t want to get married in some filthy christian’s stupid church anyway. Christians just want the right to continue their hatred and bigotry against gay people. They shouldn’t no longer be allowed to discriminate because of their stupid religion and their vile “bible”.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:25pm
  59. We are missing something here, there is more to this religion business then is openly apparent……..

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:44pm
  60. Keep religion out of marriage and things will go much better.

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 8:50pm
  61. Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 9:15pm
  62. Agree

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 10:54pm
  63. isn’t always about city hall?

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 11:16pm
  64. We are working hard here in Ohio for marriage equality…..I believe we can pass the law so keep fighting people!

    Posted on Friday, December 20, 2013 at 11:20pm
  65. And I’m ok with that.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:20pm
  66. You should be because any other way is unconstitutional.

    Replied on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 11:15pm
  67. Just reading the title, my first thought is that we are not second class citizens. We shouldn’t have “okay…but only if they can’t have this part”. Thus is a step forward, but still. I’ll go read the article I just wanted to share my thought

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:21pm
  68. Yes, but if there is truly a separation of Church and State, then no government can force a church to do something religious.

    Replied on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 4:41pm
  69. Exactly Beverly

    Replied on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 11:18pm
  70. I’d rather go to Ohio than to Minnesota….go OHIO.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:21pm
  71. Yes GO OHIO,WHO KNOWS COULD HIT PHOENIX AZ LOL

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:24pm
  72. Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:26pm
  73. I support those people.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:30pm
  74. religious exemption is ALWAYS there since REAL MARRIAGE is a civil contract the relgioous PART of OPTIONAL always has been

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:30pm
  75. Christians always do their in shit in their churches. Who cares? As long as it is a legal contract, religion is optional. Keep your shit where it belongs, the toilette.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:35pm
  76. i’m ok with that…JoAnna baby steps…we have enough affirming churches that once the others see the revenue they are pulling in doing weddings…they will want on board ;)

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:36pm
  77. Where have people’s religious beliefs ever been infringed because of marriage equality? No where.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:38pm
  78. Michael Cramer

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:42pm
  79. So, let it be. I m ok with it. As long as the same sex marriage is implemented there. Ohio is a pretty strong swing state on the elections.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:43pm
  80. NO! Your superstitious beliefs do not give you some kind of license to discriminate against me. I pay the same taxes as you. You don’t get to treat me like an inferior citizen.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:44pm
  81. Yes they do it is called freedom of religion.

    Replied on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 11:15pm
  82. Organized religion has always been about control. Would never want them involved in my wedding anyways. My faith is in God, not a group who has denied people throughout all of history.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:47pm
  83. NO religious organization has EVER issued a marriage license. NO religious ceremony or rite is required for a couple to be married. As with other aspects of life, religion has recruited and indoctrinated to such a degree that many feel they can do NOTHING without the “blessings” of one denomination or another. Religion is a scourge on society.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:49pm
  84. There’s already religious exemption. The state can’t force a church to perform a marriage that’s against the church doctrine. They never have and never will. It’s unconstitutional. So what’s stopping them?

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 3:54pm
  85. Uh, yes. Churches are already exempt from marrying whoever they don’t want to. They always have been. Thus far it has only been applied to het couples they don’t want to marry. Say like me and my husband in 1980 cuz we had no interest in my husband converting to Catholicism. (The Lutheran church was fine with performing the wedding and at my home, as I wanted. Which was another thing the Catholic church would have refused to do.) As states allow gay marriage, some churches will refuse to marry them. I see nothing wrong with that. They’ve been doing it every since they instituted whatever religion you can come up with.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 4:04pm
  86. It’s a paranoid hypothetical clause, but that’s fine. I don’t know why any LGBT would insist on getting married in a church where they’re not welcome. I would think an issue like that could be addressed if it were ever to happen.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 4:11pm
  87. in the eyes of God, not man made, we are on equal ground

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 4:13pm
  88. It’s a legal contract, has nothing to do with religion.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 4:15pm
  89. surprised that voters in 40′s are less supportive than voters in 50′s.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 4:24pm
  90. thats fine… no one wants to get married in an unloving invironment

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 4:48pm
  91. Keep the religious bigots out of this!!! I personally, and professionally, believe ALL churches and religious should be prohibited from performing same-sex marriages. Now, before you get your panties in a tight ball hear me out. The religious who support us and will marry us refuse to take on the vitriolic religious right-wing, therefore, they are part of the problem not part of the solution. You want to marry same-sex couples and you are a religious person/church, etc, you take an exam to prove you know what you are doing and why! As a physician I have to keep up my CMEs to prove I know what I am doing time to put the ministry on notice and pay your share…

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 5:15pm
  92. Why would I WANT to get married in a church that hates who I am anyway? Aside from the fact that a ceremony in ANY church is completely optional to complete the civil contract of marriage.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 6:23pm
  93. Look forcing the hand to marry people they don’t want is wrong. A rabbi can refuse to marry a couple if HE wasn’t the one to bless food as kosher. Taking religion out of gay weddings is also wrong. If a church is willing to marry a same – sex couple then it should be allowed, if a church denies it should be allowed. Making a bill that states no religion involved is wrong. A church denying a same-sex couple is the right to freedom of religion. A church officiating a same-sex wedding is right to freedom of religion. 1st ammendment people. Who would want a church that disapproves a wedding to officiate it, gay or straight. Not I, said the fly.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 7:13pm
  94. I meant a church should be allowed to deny officiating or accept officiating at their will.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 7:14pm
  95. Note that a Catholic Church only allows Catholics to be married in it. A Mormon temple only allows Mormons period within. Churches already exclude others. Marriage however, is a civil right. Your religion ends at my door.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 8:55pm
  96. What the hell is that nonesense? If you don’t like gay marriage don’t get one.
    Churches are no more obligated to perform them than the catholic church is to perform marriages on divorced people.

    Idiots.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 9:24pm
  97. Bien x esa pero falta mucho para lograr lo que deabamos

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 10:05pm
  98. Marriage is not affiliated with religion

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 10:07pm
  99. Marriage: Civil. Wedding: Religious. Is it me or are Christians letting their fear and paranoia get the best of them? No one is forcing them to perform weddings!!!

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 11:05pm
  100. Churches SHOULD be exempt. To force them to marry anyone they don’t care to is unconstitutional.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 11:14pm
  101. That’s fine. Nobody with any intelligence cares if we have a fake wedding. It’s the civil rights we care about. That’s why they are called civil. Bcuz they have nothing to do with their fake religion.

    Posted on Sunday, December 22, 2013 at 11:52pm
  102. Fair enough. Marriage was not always a religious ceremony but rather, a contract. Today it means more than that obviously but we shouldn’t force churches to perform these ceremonies if they don’t want to. There are always some churches willing to perform these ceremonies though so all is not lost if the exclusion is allowed.

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 12:29am
  103. Make religions pay taxes like everyone else. Investigate their finances. Until then, why listen to their political beliefs/wants?

    Posted on Monday, December 23, 2013 at 2:40am