Eighty-five percent of Ohio voters know someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, according to a new poll by a group that hopes familiarity breeds support for marriage equality.
Freedom Ohio, the statewide group pushing for a 2014 vote on marriage rights for lesbian and gay couples, says it will release poll results Thursday on voters’ opinions toward its proposed Marriage Equality and Religious Freedom Amendment to the state constitution.
But if the conventional wisdom holds true that people who know members of the LGBT community are more likely to support civil rights and other causes, results are likely to be more favorable than a September poll that found Ohioans split evenly on marriage equality.
“Anytime you get in the 80s on something, there’s something there,” said Ian James, a Freedom Ohio co-founder and veteran political operative.
The poll was conducted by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic-leaning firm that was named in a Fordham University study as the most accurate presidential-election pollster in 2012. The poll for Freedom Ohio was conducted Dec. 6-8. A total of 1,011 registered voters were polled, and the margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent.
Freedom Ohio’s poll also found that Gov. John Kasich leads Democrat Ed FitzGerald by just 2 percentage points in the 2014 race for governor. Given the margin of error, the race is essentially tied.
Kasich, a Republican, is favored by 40 percent of Ohio registered voters. FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, is favored by 38 percent. Six percent favor Libertarian Charlie Earl, and 16 percent are undecided.
Public Policy Polling’s Tom Jensen called Kasich’s position “very weak” and termed Democrats’ chances in 2014 “excellent.”
Article continues belowIf Freedom Ohio goes forward with its proposed constitutional amendment in 2014, the issue will share the ballot with the race for governor.
Kasich opposes marriage equality, civil unions or any other legal recognition for same-sex couples. He suggested early this year that gay and lesbian couples enter into private contracts instead.
FitzGerald, the former mayor of gay-friendly Lakewood, a Cleveland suburb, told Outlook earlier this year that he supports marriage equality.
The finding that 85 percent of Ohioans know someone in the LGBT community mirrors a national Pew Research Center poll in June that found 87 of Americans know people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
Karla Rothan, executive director of Stonewall Columbus, said “it becomes less of an issue” once people have family members or friends who are out.
“Folks who know someone who’s LGBT are less likely to discriminate against them,” she said. “That’s how we’ve created so many allies.”