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Our poll finds Delaware supports marriage equality!

Hello again Pam's House Blend readers!
Thanks again so much for your support last month, when we approached the pro-equality blogosphere for help in funding a public opinion poll on marriage equality in Delaware. And now on to the big results:
From our press release to the traditional media:

New Poll Finds Delaware Supports Marriage Equality
NEWARK, DE: FEBRUARY 09, 2011 – A new Public Policy Polling survey commissioned by Delaware Right to Marry has found that a near-majority of Delawareans now support marriage equality. The statewide poll of 605 registered voters found that a plurality (48%) of respondents favor “Delaware allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into same-sex marriages,” while an additional 5% were “not sure.” Just 16% were “somewhat opposed,” with a further 31% “strongly opposed.” More Delawareans support same-sex marriage than oppose it.


“This breakdown of those who are ‘somewhat’ versus ‘strongly’ opposed is important as the experiences of other states, such as Massachusetts and Vermont, have shown,” says Bill Humphrey, Delaware Right to Marry’s statewide director and a Massachusetts native. “In those states, opposition to marriage equality dropped dramatically among those who were ‘somewhat opposed’ beforehand, once they saw first-hand that marriage equality really has no negative impact on their own lives…or really any impact at all. It’s time the Delaware legislature embraces equal marriage rights for all its citizens.”


The proposal that Delaware Right to Marry has put forth is based on the conservative legislation passed in New Hampshire in 2009, which provides very strong religious freedom protections for churches and other religious organization. Based on the experiences of other states that have ensured such protections, we can expect opposition to marriage equality legislation to decline as Delawareans become more familiar with the specific proposal under consideration.

Other recent polls across the region have also found similar levels of support for marriage equality in nearby states. Next-door neighbor Maryland supports marriage equality for gay couples by a margin of 51-44, according to a new poll by Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies released a few days before the Delaware survey. With Maryland’s legislature poised to pass a marriage equality bill this spring, Delaware businesses stand to lose current and potential future employees to our neighbor if we do not update our own marriage statutes. Additionally, Delaware’s lucrative weddings industry along our beautiful beaches will miss a huge opportunity the longer our legislature delays.

The poll was conducted by telephone, with a sample of 605 registered voters statewide, from January 26-28. To ensure a random sample, the poll results were weighted according to standard Public Policy Polling practice to match established demographic statistics for the Delaware population on gender, race, and age. The margin of error on the poll was +/-4%. Public Policy Polling, the North Carolina-based pollster that correctly predicted the result of Delaware’s Republican Senate primary in 2010 before other pollsters, uses pre-recorded calls and a push-button response system.

Even though we were hoping for an outright majority, this result was very encouraging all the same and exceeded many predictions I heard over the last several months from skeptics of our effort. This poll was taken at the end of January of this year, and in April 2009, stats wizard Nate Silver projected that if Delaware were to vote on a (hypothetical) marriage equality ban proposal, we would be ready to vote it down by November 2011. We're just a hair's breadth away from majority support for marriage equality now, according to this poll, so it looks like he was right on track.

We hope that these results will convince legislators to start signing on to our moderate and reasonable proposal so we can try to get our bill passed before the end of the session. In the mean time, our small team is working on a plan to move forward on this issue (with or without the legislature) this spring, and we'll be keeping everyone in the loop on that once we announce more details in the coming weeks. Next month, for example, we hope to hold a big rally for marriage equality at the University of Delaware campus in Newark DE with some of the student groups there.

Thanks as usual to jpmassar and clarknt67 for their invaluable help here and across the pro-equality blogosphere. I’ll be checking in on the comments here periodically throughout the day.
–Bill Humphrey
  Statewide Director
PS: If you haven’t donated to our cause yet and want to or if you are able to donate more, we could still use your help…we’re pretty sure the out-of-state-group-who-shall-not-be-named will be rolling in later this year to oppose equality. Any amount helps us get prepared, as we are a very small operation, but we’re also in a small state, which means we can really make the dollars stretch (as long as we don’t run TV ads in Philly!). Thanks again for your support.

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Delaware Right to Marry

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