A majority of voters in Washington support same-sex marriage, according to a new poll released Tuesday.
The results of the latest survey from Democratic-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) shows 51 percent of Washington voters believe same-sex marriage should be legal, compared with 42 percent who believe it should be illegal. A state law legalizing same-sex marriage was passed earlier this year but is facing a November referendum.
PPP pressed deeper on the issue, asking voters whether gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to legally marry, form civil unions or be given no legal recognition at all. The overwhelming majority said that same-sex couples should be given at least some legal recognition, with 47 percent saying they should be allowed to marry and 30 percent saying they should be legally permitted to form civil unions but not marry. Twenty-one percent said same-sex couples should receive no legal recognition.
A measure legalizing same-sex marriage was passed by state lawmakers in Olympia and signed into law by outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) in February. The law was slated to take effect earlier this month, but implementation was delayed by gay marriage opponents, who submitted more than double the required number of signatures last week to trigger a statewide vote in November.
The battle over Referendum 74, which will uphold the law if passed, promises to figure prominently in the state’s other marquee campaign: the tight gubernatorial race between Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna and former Rep. Jay Inslee. Inslee, who hailed President Barack Obama’s public endorsement of same-sex marriage as “an act of moral courage” has used Referendum 74 to distinguish himself from his opponent, arguing that McKenna’s opposition to the measure is “not consistent with the forward-thinking, all-embracing, tolerant views of the state of Washington.” Tuesday’s poll shows McKenna with a narrow lead over Inslee, 43 percent to 40 percent.
Voters have rejected same-sex marriage in all 32 states where the issue has appeared on the ballot, but LGBT equality advocates could be poised for a slate of electoral triumphs in November. Polls have shown that same-sex marriage could pass the ballot test in three other states this year: Maine, Maryland and Minnesota.
PPP conducted its survey of 1,073 Washington voters June 14-17. The poll has a 3 percent margin of error.
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Tom Kludt is a newswriter for TPM. A former research intern and polling fellow for TPM, he lives and works in New York City. Tom graduated summa cum laude from the University of South Dakota in May of 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science and History. He can be reached at Tom (at) talkingpointsmemo.com.