Pastor Gary Randall, president of the anti-gay group Faith and Freedom, has released a poll that was supposed to show voters would support a referendum to repeal the recently passed domestic-partnership bill. “If I didn’t believe [the referendum] would pass, I wouldn’t put the work into it,” Randall said two weeks ago. “We’ll make the poll public when we get it, unless it's so ugly that I don’t want to tell anybody.” But the results are out, and, ironically, they show growing support for gay marriage but show nothing about domestic partnerships.
The survey asks, “In your opinion, should homosexuals be allowed to legally marry?” Here is how the 405 Washington voters answered:
Yes — 43%
No — 50%
Didn’t know or no answer — 7%
Conducted by Elway Research, the poll shows an unmistakable trend of growing support for marriage equality. Another poll paid for by Faith and Freedom and conducted by Elway Research in 2005 found that only 35 percent of voters supported allowing gays and lesbians to marry (.pdf). By October of last year, the University of Washington found that 37 percent of state voters supported same-sex marriage (.ppt). But now—after the hoopla over Prop 8, the approval of marriage in Vermont and Iowa, and the passage of Washington’s third domestic partnership bill—support for marriage equality has jumped.
“That is incredibly good news,” says state Senator Murray (D-43), who sponsored the domestic partnership bill. “It indicates that things are moving in our direction.” He adds, "I don’t think we are decades away. I think we are just a few years away from same-sex marriage in this state.”
This poll, however, provides no indication of how people would vote for the domestic-partnership bill, if it’s placed on the ballot via referendum. Polling by the UW last year found that 66 percent of state voters support either full marriage equality or all the rights of marriage for same-sex couples.
But Faith and Freedom, as evident by this poll, probably plans to confuse the issue between marriage and domestic partnerships. The Washington Values Alliance, which Randall says is “very involved” in the referendum effort, ran television ads in March, claiming the bill would "redefine marriage” and result in "teaching that gay marriage is normal and healthy in public schools."
“They know that if they are honest and admit that domestic partnerships are neither the legal equal equivalent of marriage nor confer the dignity of marriage they have no way of creating public opposition to domestic partnerships,” says Josh Friedes, spokesman for Equal Rights Washington, which supported the domestic-partnership bill. “I don't believe the public will be easily fooled.”