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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
March 9, 2007

Ohioans favor gay and lesbian equal

Two-thirds would support LGBT anti-bias law, poll finds,
but only 34% are for marriage

Columbus--The vast majority of Ohioans support at least some rights for same-sex couples despite a 2004 constitutional amendment banning marriage, according to a poll released on March 7 by Equality Ohio.

The survey, conducted in mid-November by the Glengariff Group in Chicago, polled 800 registered voters across the state.

It found that 91% of those polled support hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples, with only 6% opposed.

Even with the 3.5% margin of error, that means that roughly nine out of ten people believe that gay men and lesbians should be able to visit their partners in hospital with the same unfettered access as biological families.

Over two-thirds of those surveyed favored laws banning discrimination by sexual orientation in housing and employment, with 68% for such laws and 27 opposing them.

An almost identical number favored inheritance rights for same-sex couples: 64% in favor, 29% opposed.

While a majority approved of domestic partner benefits for government employees, 58% in favor and 34% opposed, public sentiment against full same-sex marriage remained steady from the 2004 election, with only 34% in favor of marriage and 58% opposed.

Almost three-quarters of those polled said that they knew someone who was lesbian, gay or transgendered. Of those, 36% said that they were very close, and 35% said that they had an acquaintance who is gay, lesbian or transgendered.

The strongest support for LGBT issues came from liberal Democrats in urban and suburban areas, those with lower church attendance, higher incomes, and of younger ages.

Republicans, people in rural areas, those who attend church weekly and people over 65 polled as less gay-friendly, and women were slightly more in favor of rights for LGBT people than men.

Despite the more obvious demographics, however, the most important factor in determining whether someone would support LGBT issues is if they know someone who is queer, according to the survey.

Many of the Republicans surveyed were more gay-friendly than party leadership would indicate. While the vast majority opposed same-sex marriage, 40% would support civil unions, two-thirds were in favor of a non-discrimination law and 90% supported visitation rights.

Those who answered that they didn�t know any lesbian, gay or transgendered people still supported hospital visitation and non-discrimination legislation by 86% and 62% respectively.

Uninformed on TG issues

Ohioans seemed mainly uninformed on transgender issues. While legislation to ban discrimination in employment and housing on the basis of gender identity had almost as much support as that based on sexual orientation--66%--allowing transgendered people to change the sex marker on official documents was split down the middle, with 41% favoring and 42% opposed to allowing such alteration.

Glengariff pollsters then posed four possible bills and asked if a lawmaker supporting them would make the respondent more or less likely to vote for the legislator: employment and housing nondiscrimination, hate crime, safe schools and domestic partnership benefits for government employees.

Ten percent of respondents were not sure how it would affect their support of a candidate, while 40% said that it would make them more likely to vote for a candidate. Only 26% said that supporting one of those bills would make them less likely to vote for lawmaker, while 24% said that such support would be unlikely to alter their vote.

�This is an exceptional response to such an important issue facing many LGBT Ohioans,� Equality Ohio Education Fund Executive Director Lynne Bowman said. �This is not about special rights. This is about every Ohioan deserving equal rights and protections.�

�Most Ohio voters understand and support that,� she noted.



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