Wednesday, May 17, 2006

IE Releases Favorable Poll Numbers For Gay Rights

Indiana Equality today released the results of a poll it commissioned late last year to guage Hoosiers' attitudes about gay rights in Indiana. While the poll results showed overwhelming support for equality on a number of issues, the poll oddly failed to test attitudes on two of the most hotly debated issues: same-sex marriages and same-sex parent adoptions.

On a key question, when asked whether gay and lesbian Hoosiers should have the same civil rights protections as everyone else, 79% of the respondents answered in the affirmative. Broken down by political party, 86% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans agreed that gays and lesbians should be treated equally on civil rights.

Similar results were found on the issue of enacting a hate crimes law. Again, 77% of the respondents would support a hate crimes law. Of those who favor a hate crimes law, 85% agree that it should include crimes committed against a person because of their sexual orientation.

The poll also surveyed the respondents on issues pertaining to hospital visitation and inheritance rights for same-sex couples. The poll found overwhelming support 74% for hospital visitation rights, while support for inheritance rights were more divided, with 53% supporting and 47% opposing. Unlike other issues, however, same-sex couples can use legal instruments such as health care powers of attorney and wills to protect their rights in this area.

While these poll results are very useful, it would have been much more helpful had IE bothered to poll on two of the most critical issues. It is a given that a clear majority of Hoosiers oppose legally-recognized marriages for same-sex couples; however, many Hoosiers don't believe a constitutional amendment like SJR-7, which will be taken up by the legislature next year, is necessary. With the recent court decision allowing same-sex parent adoptions, it is also a given that legislative efforts will be made next year to ban same-sex adoptions as Sen. Jeff Drozda (R-Westfield) has already announced. Based upon the public reaction to date, it appears many Hoosiers support gay-parent adoptions. It is unfortunate that the poll didn't provide us data on that topic.

Indiana University Center for Survey Research conducted the poll using random dialing to talk to 504 adult Indiana residents from Nov. 11, 2005 through Dec. 27, 2005. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

If you would like to view the poll results, click here.

2 comments:

paula said...

Gary,
Everyone keeps pointing out that we can use legal documents to approximate rights gained automatically by marriage. My question is, what happens to those documents if/when SJR7 is passed and restricts the "legal incidents thereof" or whatever the legal mumbo jumbo is that it says?

I don't think it would be too hard to have a judge on either side of the conservative/liberal fence to decide that a will violates that and is null and void.

The conservative might do it just because they don't believe in our relationships and think we shouldn't have ANY rights to decide anything about our relationships.

The liberal might do it just to force the supremes into ruling it ... well, wait. That brings up another question. If it is horribly written, but is in the Constitution - what happens? It can't be ruled unconstitutional, so what can be done?

Advance Indiana said...

Paula,

The legal documents to which I refer would not be overturned by SJR-7. Any person of sound mind has the legal right to leave his/her estate to the beneficiaries he/she chooses. A person of sound mind can appoint a health care representative of his/her choice. You can choose a form of property ownership that protects a same-sex partner. You can contract with a same-sex partner through a domestic partner agreement to approach how marital property is allocated for recognized marriages. Where SJR-7 can pose a problem is in the public setting. For example, a public entity might be prohibited from offering same-sex partner benefits because that might be interpreted as a legal incident of marriage. That being said, that isn't a reason to sit on your hands and allow SJR-7 to become part of our constitution.