CONCORD, N.H. (BP)–New Hampshire’s legislature may have passed a “gay marriage” bill that the governor signed into law, but that hasn’t translated into statewide support, a new poll says.
The poll shows that by a margin of 49-41 percent, New Hampshire likely voters disapprove of the law that made the state the sixth nationwide to legalize “marriage” for homosexual couples. Ten percent are undecided. The poll was conducted by Research 2000 for the liberal blog DailyKos.com, a fact that conservatives say only adds to the poll result’s validity. The polling company interviewed 600 likely voters from July 13-15.
It’s the second survey so far in July to show citizens in a state that recognizes “gay marriage” bucking the liberal establishment. In Iowa, a survey of 500 registered voters showed that 67 percent favor of placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would prohibit “gay marriage.”
The New Hampshire survey was released as the state’s conservatives begin plans to try and flip the legislature and governorship from Democratic to Republican in next year’s election, with the goal of reversing the “gay marriage” law. That may sound overtly partisan, but those same conservatives say it’s their only hope. Unlike states such as California, New Hampshire law does not provide a way for citizens to gather signatures to try and change law. All changes must begin at the state capitol.
“The numbers are on our side,” Kevin Smith, executive director of the New Hampshire-based Cornerstone Policy Research, which opposes the law, told Baptist Press. “Certainly in the legislative races, we’re going to make it an issue that this is not something the people of New Hampshire supported. … In the governor’s race, it’s not only that [Gov. John Lynch] signed and supported gay marriage, it’s he broke his word on it. He simply misled the voters and broke his word on it.”
A Democrat in his third term, Lynch signed the gay marriage bill in early June, two months after he said he believed the “word marriage is reserved for a marriage between a man and a woman.” Democrats won the legislature in 2006.
Smith said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the poll’s numbers, given it was conducted for a liberal organization. But he also said he believes opposition is “even higher.” He theorized that some people are hesitant to tell a pollster they oppose “gay marriage,” and as evidence he pointed to states where a marriage amendment on the ballot outperformed the pre-election survey.
“Typically the support for traditional marriage always comes about five or six points higher than what the polling said because many people just don’t want to reveal their opinion on it,” he said. “… I am definitely encouraged by those numbers, and to me it’s just another sign that it’s a winning issue for us in New Hampshire going into next year’s election.”
In the poll, 18- to 29-year-olds supported the law by a margin of 53-39 percent, while 30- to 44-year-olds opposed it, 53-38 percent. That latter demographic, in fact, had the highest opposition — higher even than the 60-plus category (50 percent opposed, 40 percent supportive).
“I think it’s a very encouraging sign that that group of people who are really the ones that probably have young families or just starting out with families seem to be the most opposed,” Smith said.
As for the youngest demographic, Smith said, “I think maybe as they get older and start having families, the trend will be that they’ll move away from their support for it.”
The poll told those surveyed: “As you may know same-sex couples were granted the right to legally marry in New Hampshire. Do you approve or disapprove of this decision?”
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.