COLUMBUS, Ohio — Eight years after Ohio voters banned gay and lesbian couples from getting married, a new Columbus Dispatch poll finds majority now supports their right to legally wed.
The Dispatch poll published Sunday found 54 percent of voters favor a proposed ballot measure that would undo a 2004 state constitutional amendment and replace it with marriage rights for all couples. Forty percent want to keep the ban in place, and 5 percent were unsure.
The biggest margins regionally for marriage equality were posted in northwestern Ohio (including Toledo), southwestern Ohio (including Cincinnati) and central Ohio (including Columbus). Surprisingly, the only region in which more voters opposed marriage equality than supported it was in northeastern Ohio and Cleveland, traditionally the most liberal and Democratic part of the state.
The only demographic groups where more people opposed than favored marriage equality were voters 55 and older, Republicans and residents of small towns and rural areas of the state.
The poll was conducted for The Dispatch by Saperstein Associates from March 5 to 10. It has a 3.1 percentage-point margin of error.
“We are heartened and affirmed by (the) poll published in The Columbus Dispatch because we have witnessed the seismic shift in public opinion toward marriage equality while working for more than a year to have a conversation with Ohioans and collect signatures in all 88 counties,” said Ian James, co-founder of Freedom Ohio, the group collecting signatures to put the marriage amendment on this fall’s ballot.
James noted that the poll was conducted before U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio announced his change of heart on marriage equality. Portman, who said he was influenced by the desire that his gay son have the same rights that his other two children enjoy, became the only Republican in the Senate to support marriage rights for lesbian and gay couples.