I mentioned this in passing yesterday, but a newly released poll shows that a majority of voters in Montana support domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. That poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for the American Civil Liberties Union, found that 53 percent of Montana voters favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into domestic partnerships.
“Support of same-sex domestic partnerships is growing, and now we can quantify what our day-to-day interactions with people are telling us,” said ACLU of Montana LGBT Advocacy Coordinator Ninia Baehr. “It’s heartening to know that people understand that every loving and committed couple who pays taxes in our state deserves fairness.”
The change in attitude mirrors an increase in the number of same-sex couples in Montana reporting their households to the U.S. Census Bureau. Recently released numbers show 2,295 same-sex households in the 2010 Census – a 54 percent jump since 2000.
Key Highlights of 2011 Polling
- Most Montanans favor domestic partnership. By a 13 point margin, voters in Montana favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into domestic partnerships – 53 percent favor, 40 percent oppose. There is more intensity among those who favor; 35 percent strongly favor, while 29 percent strongly oppose.
- More than half of Catholics (55 percent) favor domestic partnerships, including 36 percent who strongly favor allowing domestic partnerships. This measure also wins the support of nearly half (47 percent) of seniors, a majority of older women (54 percent), and blue collar women (52 percent).
- Support for domestic partnerships seems to be increasing. A 2008 survey conducted by Lake Research Partners asked voters a four-part question asking them to choose between traditional marriage, marriage with another name, civil unions, and no legal recognition. The survey found that 33 percent of Montanans thought that gay and lesbian couples should have the same right to marry as straight couples, or should have the same right to marry but it should not be called marriage.2
- Voters recognize discrimination against gays and lesbians. A 47 percent plurality believe gay people in Montana face a lot of discrimination; only 38 percent think that gays and lesbians in the state do not face much discrimination.
People understand that the lack of legal recognition of same-sex relationships leaves couples extremely vulnerable. In Montana examples of unfairness toward same-sex couples include a woman who was denied bereavement leave when her partner’s father died, and another woman who lost her home because she was ineligible for worker’s compensation death benefits when her partner was killed in an accident.
“Same-sex couples have told us time and again that they are meeting more and more people who sympathize with their plight,” said Baehr. “This polling reinforces the growing support those couples have been experiencing.”
While it’s not exactly marriage, I’ll take it. For now.
This shows the evolution of the Montana voter’s attitude is in favor of eventual, full equality-and this change in attitude has a cause. This is happening because more of us are simply visible as co-workers, neighbors, children, siblings and friends. We are not a threat, we’re just people.
I’m particularly impressed with the Catholics- and not surprised, really. This is about social justice for us- not particularly about morality. Even though the hierarchy is deeply out of touch on this issue, this is a reminder that the sense of the people in the pews is leading the church here. My mother would have agreed- I know the rest of my Catholic family does.
In the eyes of Montanans, “The Gays” are slowly changing from scary bogeymen into recognizable human beings. Never underestimate the power unleashed by broken closet doors….