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March 23, 2009

Half of North Carolinians oppose state constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages

Half of North Carolinians oppose a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in the Tar Heel State, according to the latest Elon University Poll, but just one fifth of respondents support full marriage rights for gays and lesbians.

The poll, conducted March 15-19, surveyed 620 North Carolina residents and has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. Poll workers asked questions on several public policy issues, from same sex marriages to video poker to financial education in the public schools.

“Given the contention in opinions across these hot-button issues,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll, “state legislators face some tough decisions in the coming months.”

Lawmakers in Raleigh have introduced a bill this year that would allow a referendum on the issue. Should the bill pass, North Carolina voters would get a chance to vote on making a ban part of the state constitution. Supporters have said an amendment would provide protection should the current law be overturned in the courts.

Fifty percent of respondents said they oppose a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Forty-three percent support a constitutional ban.

Regarding same-sex marriage, when asked directly about their position on the issue, respondents indicated the following:

Oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples: 44 percent
Support civil unions or partnerships, but not full marriage rights: 28 percent
Support full marriage rights: 21 percent

Researchers shared with respondents the current state law that already prevents same sex couples from being married. Forty-three percent of respondents indicated support for the amendment after being told the ban was already in place.

Other poll topics included the following: 

Video Poker

When questioned about the legality of video poker being available for play in North Carolina:

Video poker should be illegal: 45 percent
Video poker should be legal: 38 percent
Don’t know: 14 percent
Should only be allowed at Harrah’s / Stay like it is: 2 percent

Financial Education in Public Schools

A majority of North Carolinians (91 percent) support public school students being required to take financial planning courses. At what grade level?

High School: 33 percent
Middle School: 46 percent
Elementary School: 21 percent

Campaign Financing

In general, nearly half of respondents (47 percent) oppose the public financing of political campaigns, while 41 percent support it.

Only 33 percent of respondents said they contributed to a political campaign during the previous year. Of those who gave, a majority gave between $100 and $500.

Juvenile Justice

Seventy percent of poll respondents opposed capital punishment for defendants under the age of 18. When asked at what age a minor should be tried as an adult, respondents indicated the following:

Minor should not be tried as an adult: 29 percent

Less than 14 years of age: 7 percent

14 to 15 years of age: 15 percent

16 years of age: 30 percent

17 years of age: 7 percent

18 years of age: 12 percent