Majority back same-sex marriage

Wedding ringsFrom the polling published this weekend:

Would you support or oppose changing the law to allow same-sex couples to marry?
Support: 55%
Oppose: 36%

Amongst Conservative voters the results are 44% – 49% (which is a statistical dead heat, when you remember to factor in the  margin of error).

Interestingly, the majority support comes despite the lead-up to the question being a tadge inaccurate:

Since 2005 same-sex couples have been able to enter into civil partnerships. While civil partnerships offer the same legal rights as marriage, same-sex couples are not able to marry.

In fact, the legal rights aren’t the same, for example for some pension rights, so if anything that preliminary wording is likely to have depressed the true ‘support’ figure. (I’ve had a brief discussion with the pollster about this and they think it is very unlikely to have much of an impact. I’m not quite so sure, but either way we can be sure that the wording isn’t inflating the figure.)

UPDATE: YouGov has since tested varying the word to cover the above point, and there was no statistically significant difference as a result.

 

* Mark Pack has written 101 Ways To Win An Election and produces a monthly newsletter about the Liberal Democrats.

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46 Comments

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Feb '13 - 3:44pm

    Thanks for this information Mark.

    The same You Gove poll ( and we all know polls are transient ) tell us that 71% of people think Nick Clegg is doing a bad job and 58% think Cameron is bringing in same-sex marriage for political reasons, casting doubt that he actually believes in it!

    Oh, and only 7% think the issue of same-sex marriage will effect voting intentions at the next election! People are far more interested in bread and butter issues.

  • Kevin Colwill 3rd Feb '13 - 4:33pm

    What happened to conviction politics?

    Nothing puts people off politics, politicians and political commentators more than endless discussion about how an issue might turn out to be an electoral advantage/disadvantage.

    Marriage should be a legitimate option for anyone who wants it. Civil Partnerships have had a role in breaking down barriers. Whilst most people, straight and gay, look on civil partnerships as de facto marriages they aren’t the same. We should change the law to end discrimination… end of.

  • Mark Inskip 3rd Feb '13 - 4:35pm

    @Helen Tedcastle
    “The same You Gove poll ( and we all know polls are transient )…”
    Cut the obsession with Michael Gove, this is You Gov.

    “…. tell us that 71% of people think Nick Clegg is doing a bad job”
    And 56% think Miliband is doing a bad job, and 55% that Cameron is doing a bad job. So none of our political leaders are seen as doing well and Clegg least of all which shouldn’t be a surprise as this is clearly reflected in general views of politicians and in the Lib Dems suffering as the mi nor party in a coalition.

    But back to samw sex marriage and there’s clearly a growing accepted view in society that it should be legal. Also worth noting the extremely strong support amongst Lib Dem supporters for same sex marriage (74% for verses only 19% against).

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Feb '13 - 5:07pm

    @ mark Inskip: ” Cut the obsession with Michael Gove, this is You Gov.”

    No need to get tetchy Mark – it was a slip of the key board – funny though.

    “Also worth noting the extremely strong support amongst Lib Dem supporters for same sex marriage (74% for verses only 19% against).”

    Quite. Not really a surprise to me or anyone else but it does show there is not 100% agreement on this issue even in the Lib Dems.

    However the issue really is not a big issue for the public – just look at the ranking in importance for the following issues which may sway voting intentions at the next election: The Economy – 58% Health 36% – Welfare – 28% Education – 22%, Gay marriage – 7%.

  • @Helen: There is not much public interest in Secret Courts, should we just ignore those as well. I mean if the public do not care about an issue, then surely it does not matter. Would you hold this same view if someone was proposing to stop religious ceremonies, and the polls suggested the public did not care?

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Feb '13 - 5:37pm

    @ Liberal Al.

    No but if Cameron proposed to ban religious ceremonies then I guess we’d be living in a state like North Korea, so we would probably all be in jail anyway.

  • Am more convinced now than ever that Cameron is purging the Tory right (a weird group and always over represented in Parliament) ready to merge with the LDs . That would hit the political bullseye – a large, socially liberal economically conservative grouping to take forward. Left LDs will go back to Labour, the Tory right will go the way of the SDP, ideally via UKIP. Genius! Who knows, maybe Boris is the new Dr Death…

  • Helen – don’t worry about the UK becoming new North Korea – am sure that liberals would support allowing the religious to continue practicing in the privacy of their own homes, provided that no minors were corrupted of course!

  • Helen Tedcastle 3rd Feb '13 - 6:42pm

    @ Dave Page: the North Korea reference was about banning religious ceremonies as a whole.

    @ John Mc: “liberals would support allowing the religious to continue practicing in the privacy of their own homes, provided that no minors were corrupted of course!”

    Oh good, Granny will be pleased.

  • 44-49 is not “a statistical dead heat”. 44-49 might conceivably (though with low probability) reflect a 47-46 split in opinion. But it also might, with equal probability, reflect a 41-52 split. What it most probably reflects is exactly what it shows: 44-49, a substantial lead among Conservatives for the no side, with 43-50 and 45-48 being next most likely, then 42-51 and 46-47, and so forth.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Feb '13 - 8:11pm

    Even a 41-52 split is not a “substantial lead”. Who knows how many of each vote are hard-wedded to that vote, and how many are changeable?

  • The question is a major issue in my opinion. I was discussing this with a friend recently who was of the opinion that it was a step too far as civil partnerships were ‘the same’. After explaining why I feel they are not and demonstrating where they patently are not there was a grudging acceptance that their argument against was not valid. They still didn’t change their mind, but hey ho….

    It’s down to parliament now, good luck with the urging @Dave Page I will be writing (sadly I suspect in vain) to my MP.

  • As someone who went on marches to oppose Section 28 and loathed the Tories for their use of homophobia to drum up votes in the 1980s, I’m taking special delight in this moment of division and destruction within the Conservative Party on the issue of gay rights (to add to all the others like HS2, the EU).

    It SO serves them right. If revenge is a dish best served cold, these are just desserts: ultra-sweet and straight out of the freezer. Mmmmm!

    I really hope they go all the way to self destruction this time.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Feb '13 - 9:11pm

    Hate is not something one should be proud of. It is an indication of error. It needs to be corrected, not celebrated.

  • In the first half of my life homosexuals were were called queers and risked punished with imprisonment: now anyone who calls a homosexual a queer risks going to prison. So far, so good: the persecution of homosexuals in the past: was wrong – unjustified, unfair and should never have been – but at he same time many of my generation think that the pendulum of public opinion has swung too far. We are baffled and unable to understand how for centuries failure by heterosexual couples to consummate their marriage has been grounds for divorce – in other words the law said that where there was inability to procreate the marriage ceremony was flawed and therefore invalid. Therefore how can a couple who know from the start that they cannot consummate engage in a marriage ? Are we not allowing political correctness to cross the boundaries of common sense ?

  • daft h'a'porth 3rd Feb '13 - 10:10pm

    @Mike C
    Or it could be that the entire concept that the ‘inability to procreate’ renders marriage null and void is itself a relic from a very disturbing byegone age and should be quietly buried along with the rest of the ideas that are best forgotten. Hmm.

    Frankly it is pretty disrespectful to presume that partners who do not procreate are not ‘really’ married or candidates for marriage. Says more about perception of the onlooker than anything else.

  • Matthew Huntbach 3rd Feb '13 - 10:43pm

    john mc

    Left LDs will go back to Labour,

    “Back to Labour”? I have been a member of the Liberal Democrats, and the Liberal Party before that for 35 years. I regard myself as on the left of the party. I have NEVER been a member of the Labour Party. I only ever voted Labour once in my life, in a local election where there wasn’t a full slate of Liberal candidates. How could I go “back” to something I was never part of? Your attitude is the sort of thing the right-wing infiltrators in our party are trying to push – that somehow people like us who are lifelong members of the party are not really welcome in the party and ought to be in Labour. I know very well why I am NOT a member of the Labour Party and never wanted to be, and if some Thatcherite who calls himself a “liberal” at the top of the part, pushed there by big business funding of his right-wing pressure group can’t see that, well it just proves my point – it is he who should be questioning his liberalism, not me.

  • Richard Church 3rd Feb '13 - 10:45pm

    If ability to procreate is a qualification for marriage we had better ban the elderly from it.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Feb '13 - 11:16pm

    The qualification is to be a male-female pair with having achieved a certain minimum age. So, no need to ban the elderly.

  • Richard Dean 3rd Feb '13 - 11:46pm

    The qualification is limited to exclude close relatives, and arises because marriage has been about the renewal of society. As far as the organs of society that carry out marriages are concerned, it has probably never been fundamentally about individual happiness, except in so far as that happiness supports society’s aim.

    Other types of relationship have always been possible, without needing to call them marriage, and there are many instances of brothers living together, sisters living together, businesses being operated as partnerships, and so on, as well as same-sex friends living together with or without sexual activities.

    Same-sex marriage does not appear to support the aim of renewal. Perhaps this is one of the factors the underlies objections to it. After all, the other named or unnamed relationships that are available appear to offer everything that marriage offers as far as individual happiness is concerned

  • Richard Dean 4th Feb '13 - 12:05am

    Renewal happens through two main processes. One is creation of new individuals, the other is socialization of those individuals.

    The man-woman pair do creation well if they are above a certain minimum age, and even when they are too old to procreate they can still participate in socializing their youngers. Same-sex pairs don’t do creation, and some would argue that the kind of socialization that they are likely to do is distorting, in the sense of not being likely to provide adequate role-modelling for ongoing participation in renewal.

    Well, there’s a theory that might explain some objections! :-)

  • Richard Dean 4th Feb '13 - 2:46am

    Society of course is of immense value to all of us – without it we would be lonely savages in a jungle, and probably dead quite soon. So it is natural for us to honour those amongst us who continually recreate this valuable thing for us.

    At present, we have a special word for those people, “married”, and we thank them for their work of renewal by moral support of many kinds and by tax breaks and other gifts. People who do not participate in the work of renewal in the same way would seem to have no real right to expect the same honour and the same gifts. Those people need not feel unwanted as a result, they perhaps provide other services that can be valuable to society – such as questioning assumptions – but they don’t provide the service of renewal, so should not expect to receive the same honours and support and gifts bestowed on those who do.

    Of course it doesn’t matter a whole lot. If gay marriage goes through, then perhaps society will just invent a new word and transfer the honours away from the word married and towards this new word, whatever it is.

    So, having started on the pro-gay-marriage side of the fence, I have now managed to climb over to the anti side! I really don’t know whether insomnia is a good or bad thing! :-)

  • Marriage *is* a social artifact, but it is not an “honour”, “support”, or “gift”. It is a recognition by society that a particularly close pair relationship exists between two people, and that society values that relationship. Society neither has nor had any knowledge, care, or interest in whether that particular couple can or will reproduce by the penis-in-vagina method. Society is perfectly capable of dealing with and validating older couples, infertile couples, couples who choose not to have children, couples who adopt, couples who use artificial methods of conception, couples who use sperm donors, couples who use surrogates, and so forth. Society therefore has no reason to withhold the same recognition of close pair relationships where the two members of the pair happen to be both male or both female. Such couples may choose not to have children, like many opposite-sex couples; or they can form families by almost all of the means available to opposite-sex couples. A biological rationale for a social system that is prejudiced against same-sex couples strikes me as forced, after the fact, and hardly credible. That is to say, I find it difficult to believe that anyone can really base their opinion of same-sex marriage on this particular type of rationale. Not that I doubt the sincerity of the opposition, but I expect that its source lies in other, more comprehensible motives.

  • Helen Tedcastle 4th Feb '13 - 9:02am

    @ Richard Dean:
    Excellent and thoughtful posts on the importance of marriage as commonly understood since time immemorial.

    @ Matthew Huntbach: ” I have NEVER been a member of the Labour Party. I only ever voted Labour once in my life, in a local election where there wasn’t a full slate of Liberal candidates. How could I go “back” to something I was never part of? Your attitude is the sort of thing the right-wing infiltrators in our party are trying to push – that somehow people like us who are lifelong members of the party are not really welcome in the party and ought to be in Labour.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

  • Paul in Twickenham 4th Feb '13 - 9:24am

    In a few years time when all of this is settled people will look back and wonder what all the commotion was about.

  • Richard Dean 4th Feb '13 - 10:45am

    The arguments I propose do not detract from the value that same-sex couples bring in terms of social cohesion and individual well-being. They support the view that marriage has a social role that is different from civil partnering.

    Both types of couple can be respected but, because of that difference, there is no reason to treat them the same. Though of course we might collectively decide that we would prefer to do so.

  • Paul in Twickenham 4th Feb ’13 – 9:24am
    “In a few years time when all of this is settled people will look back and wonder what all the commotion was about.”

    I agree. I remember vociferous opposition to Women Clergy and Civil Partnerships. But now we cannot find anyone here who will admit to opposing these. We shall see the same with Equal Marriage.

  • Soon people will be getting married because the Tories will be giving them the ‘gift’ of tax breaks to do so.

  • Richard Dean “we thank them for their work of renewal by moral support of many kinds and by tax breaks and other gifts”

    What you say is very flowery and poetic but – really??? I don’t think many stay-at-home parents would agree with you about how society rewards them for procreating. And we are constantly being told that it is not fair for childless people to pay taxes for our children’s university tuition etc. Our society is not very ‘welcoming’ to the young these days.

  • “Same-sex marriage does not appear to support the aim of renewal”

    As James O’ Brien said this morning on LBC : it all comes down to genitals then?!

  • David “Society is perfectly capable of dealing with and validating older couples, infertile couples, couples who choose not to have children, couples who adopt, couples who use artificial methods of conception, couples who use sperm donors, couples who use surrogates, and so forth. Society therefore has no reason to withhold the same recognition of close pair relationships where the two members of the pair happen to be both male or both female. Such couples may choose not to have children, like many opposite-sex couples; or they can form families by almost all of the means available to opposite-sex couples”

    Absolutely!! Thank you for that excellent analysis of how the definition of marriage hasn’t been stuck in aspic since ‘time immemorial’.

  • Richard Dean 4th Feb '13 - 12:52pm

    James O’Brien is clearly demonstrating the mistake. Renewing society requires both creation and socialization. Genitals are only needed for the first.

  • Richard Snowdon 4th Feb '13 - 3:26pm

    Can’t say I see the purpose of marriage as “renewal”, more to recognise a close bond between individuals. I agree to a large extent with what David wrote earlier, great post.

    @ Richard Dean

    As David points out, penis-in-vagina is only one method for a couple to procreate. As for socialisation, after deciphering the obfuscating language of your posts you seem to be arguing the fallacy that same-sex parents can’t raise straight children? I don’t really see why the sexuality of the parents is so relevant . Are hetero parents more likely to be responsible, better able to love, able to give better advice/guidance? I think it’d be a stretch to claim any of these things.

  • Michael Parsons 4th Feb '13 - 3:26pm

    The Decxlaratiin if Human Rights reads:

    Article 16.
    • (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
    • (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
    • (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

  • Helen Tedcastle 4th Feb '13 - 3:59pm

    @ Phyllis: ” I agree. I remember vociferous opposition to Women Clergy and Civil Partnerships. But now we cannot find anyone here who will admit to opposing these. We shall see the same with Equal Marriage.”

    There was opposition to female priesthood within the Church of England – I don’t recall large numbers of non-Anglicans, except some Catholics getting very upset over the issue – it was internal to the Church.

    Civil Partnerships – yes, there were concerns raised as I recall but no where near on the scale of the opposition for all quarters to Gay Marriage.

    The opposition to this is big even if it passes through the Commons tomorrow – and it’s not just Tories in the Shires who are concerned – that’s a hard lesson for the metropolitan chattering classes to grasp.

  • Helen: earlier in this thread you said “Oh, and only 7% think the issue of same-sex marriage will effect voting intentions at the next election! People are far more interested in bread and butter”

    Now you are saying “The opposition to this is big even if it passes through the Commons tomorrow – and it’s not just Tories in the Shires who are concerned – that’s a hard lesson for the metropolitan chattering classes to grasp.”

    You can’t have it both ways.

  • Helen Tedcastle 4th Feb '13 - 4:13pm

    @ Phyllis: You can’t have it both ways.

    The opposition has been all over the news, press and television today.

    7% represents the number of people who say that the issue will determine how they vote at the next election.

    The two points are not in contradiction.

  • Well either the issue is massively important for the public or as you say above “the issue really is not a big issue for the public” . Yes the media always have opponents of Givernment bills on the news because that is, well newsworthy especially if there are ‘rebels’ or ‘division’ which can cause the government trouble but I don’t think you can take that to mean anything significant. It’s not on the same scale as opposition to the Iraq War is it? I haven’t seem anyone marching on Parliament or even demonstrating with placards outside .

  • Richard Dean 4th Feb '13 - 4:37pm

    It’s doubtful that the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was referring to gays marrying, and the phrase “found a family” seems to suggest that it wasn’t. Is there any evidence that the drafters or signatories were thinking in wider social terms? This is what the History section of the relevant UN website says:

    “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 December 1948, was the result of the experience of the Second World War. With the end of that war, and the creation of the United Nations, the international community vowed never again to allow atrocities like those of that conflict happen again.”

    The atrocities referred to were perpetrated even though populations could have objected, and one of the perceived problems was that the people had had no basis on which to argue against them. The Declaration was created as a something that people could use and refer to for that purpose. The present situation re gay marriage is nothing like that, and is relatively mundane in comparison. http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/history.shtml

  • Just a clarification, since I am neither right wing nor, after being a member since I joined the Liberal Party in 1983, am I probably (still) an infiltrator! I do have friends who call themselves left wing who were LDs who came from, and have gone back to, Labour. Others haven’t. How many haven’t we’ll see at the next election!

  • Helen Dudden 5th Feb '13 - 8:05am

    I feel this is getting out of hand. Of course ,there will be people that are not against the gay population, but feel on religious grounds. they can’t agree.

    We all can’t agree to everything , that is human nature.

  • Simon Banks 6th Feb '13 - 5:57pm

    Stewart: thanks for demonstrating that e-petitions and those who respond to consultations may be highly unrepresentative of broader opinion.

    Helen: I joined the Liberal Party 46 years ago, and I didn’t join to be obsessed by whatever issues would win most votes and to ignore issues that weren’t big vote winners. Of course if we go to the polls saying the main thing we’ve achieved is same sex marriage, we won’t prosper; but we don’t have to. We affirm it along with the issues Granny cares about.

    Actually, you could be wrong about Granny. Many years ago in Waltham Forest we opposed a Conservative attempt to write gays out of the sex education policy. A colleague was rung by an old local man who would have served well as a type of Grand-dad and who had a tendency to grumble. He raised various issues and then said, “What’s this about telling kids in school about homosexuality?” Colleague (with a sinking heart) mumbles something. Old man: “Well, I think it’s a bloody good idea.”

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