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Same sex marriage (SSM) in New Hampshire

What do the polls say?

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Week of 2009-MAY-03: Cornerstone Policy Research poll:

Cornerstone Policy Research (CPR) is a conservative group opposing marriage equality. During the week of 2009-MAY-03 they attempted to contact by telephone a half million homes in New Hampshire. They reported that of the people they reached:

bullet64% said they supported "traditional marriage."
bullet51% said that they would call Governor Lynch's office to explain their position.

Kevil Landgigan of the Nashua Telegraph wrote:

In the interest of no-spin, here's how the first question went that gay marriage opponents said led to 64 percent agreement.

"This survey concerns a new law the state Legislature just passed that will affect marriage in New Hampshire. Do you agree that marriage between only one man and one woman should be legal in New Hampshire?'' the question asked.

It's not a law, and the question chooses the positive course rather than to simply ask, "Do you oppose a legal marriage between two men or two women?''

This is also when even word placement makes a difference. Look to the question above and change "marriage between only'' to "only marriage between'' and the emphasis is stronger and gives a better clue as to the level of opposition to gay marriage.

Here's the question about calling Lynch:

"During his tenure, Governor Lynch repeatedly promised us that he would oppose gay marriage in New Hampshire. Now the state Legislature is sending him HB 436: a dangerous bill that will legalize same-sex marriage in New Hampshire, would you be willing to call Governor Lynch today and tell him to oppose same-sex marriage?''

Lynch never promised or pledged anything. He did say in the 2006 campaign he opposed gay marriage and, throughout this late winter and early spring, said marriage should be reserved as an institution for a male and female union.

Using a lightning rod word like "dangerous'' in a poll question always cranks up a desired response. The N.H. Freedom to Marry Coalition's own pollster -- the UNH [University of New Hampshire] Survey Center in this case -- found 55 percent said they support same-sex marriage. 1

Mark Twain once repeated a remark attributed to Benjamin Disraeli: "'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics."

The data conducted by CPR research appear to be from the third category. They conducted what appears to be a "push poll" -- a survey designed to promote a specific response from those surveyed.

There are many types of relationships that the individuals involved consider to be marriage, but which are not necessarily recognized by their state or province:

  1. marriage between only one man and one woman -- the most popular kind
  2. marriage between one man and more than one women -- now promoted by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and formerly promoted -- but now at least temporarily suspended -- by the much larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  3. marriage between one woman and more than one man -- a rare form.
  4. marriage between multiple women and multiple men -- often called group marriage.
  5. marriage between two man, commonly called same-sex marriage (SSM) or gay marriage.
  6. marriage between two women, also commonly called same-sex marriage (SSM) or gay marriage.

In their survey, according to the Nashua Telegraph, Cornerstone asked whether the first variety -- marriage between only one man and one woman -- should be legal.

Now, I am a male married to a female. If asked this question I would certainly answer yes. I would certainly not want the government to step in and forcibly divorce me against my will. But my answer does not give the slightest indication of my support or opposition to same-sex marriage.

I am personally a strong supporter for "traditional marriage" which has mainly been between only one man and one woman in North America. But this says nothing about my opinion towards SSM, which I also support.

Apparently large numbers of people surveyed were taken in by the CPR question, including CitizenLink, a fundamentalist Christian news service. In a news item distributed on 2009-JUN-03, Editor Jennifer Mesko misquoted the survey question as:

"A recent New Hampshire survey found 64 percent of respondents agreed that 'marriage between one man and one woman should be the only legal definition of marriage'." 3

Ms. Mesko appears to have copied this phrase word-for-word from her earlier story on the CitizenLink site, published on MAY-20. 4

To further confuse the issue, at least two individuals independently report receiving an automated call that first asked if the recipient is a registered voter. It then allegedly asked:

"Do you think it should be legal for one woman and one man to marry in New Hampshire. Answer yes or no." 5,7

If this is the actual question, I cannot understand why they would not have received a 100% affirmative response. I don't know of anyone who wants to prevent men and women from marrying.

We have posted a question on Cornerstone's web site asking for clarification. 6 As expected, we did not receive a response.

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2011-JAN/FEB: Poll shows overwhelming support for SSM:

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center conducted a poll of 520 randomly selected adults between 2011-JAN-27 and FEB-06. This was a little more than one year after the first same-sex couples were married in the state. This is probably sufficient time to allow the people of New Hampshire to realize that there were no negative impacts on their lives and marriages. The poll revealed that:

  • 62% of those sampled want to retain the law that allows loving, committed same-sex couples to marry.
  • 29% support repealing the law.

The margin of error is ±4 percentage points. 8

With a more than 2 to 1 margin of support for SSM, and a the likelihood that support will continue to rise in the future, Republicans would probably suffer significantly in the next elections if they were able to repeal the SSM law.

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2011-SEP/OCT: Poll shows that support for SSM continues:

A WMUR-TV Granite State poll was conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center between 2011-SEP-26 and OCT-02. Sample size was 500 randomly selected adults. Poll results have a margin of error of ±4.4 percentage points. The survey showed little support for repealing the SSM law, as the state Republican party is actively promoting in the legislature. Andrew Smith, director of the Center said:

"Strong opponents of repealing same-sex marriage continue to outnumber strong proponents by more than 2 to 1. The New Hampshire public is not showing any strong desire to repeal this law."

Some findings of the poll:

  • Those who want to preserve SSM in the state consider it a much more important issue that those who want the SSM law repealed.

  • 44% of adults are more likely to vote against a candidate who favors repealing SSM.
  • 14%  are more likely to vote against a candidate who favors retaining SSM.

  • 8% felt that legalizing SSM had a major effect on the state.
  • 38% said it had a minor effect.
  • 47% said it had no effect.

  • 9% of Republicans said that SSM had a major effect on the state.
  • 11% of political conservatives said it had a major effect. 9,10

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2012-FEB- 09: Poll shows support for SSM remains high:

A WMUR/University of New Hampshire Survey Center poll in early February found that:

  • 59% of state adults oppose passage of HB 437 -- the bill to repeal same-sex marriages.
    • 48% oppose it strongly; 11% somewhat
  • 32% favor passage of HB 437.
    • 23% favor it strongly; 9% somewhat. 11

Craig Stowell (R), co-chair of Standing Up for New Hampshire Families -- a pro-marriage equality group -- said:

"These numbers are impressive, but not surprising. Most people are stunned that the legislature is considering repealing this law and taking rights away from our families, friends and neighbors. People want to help, they want to be heard and most of all, they want the Legislature to get back to work on issues that really matter in these challenging economic times." 12

He also said:

"We’ve now had a full year’s worth of polls on the question of repealing our marriage equality law and the result is always the same. Voters do not want the Legislature messing with this law. This is not a close call. By a consistent margin of nearly two-to-one, voters are telling legislators to leave this popular law alone and get back to work on the economic challenges of our day." 13

This is a common phenomenon experienced in Canada, Massachusetts, and other areas. When same-sex marriage is made available within a political jurisdictions, voters realize that the change has not altered their own marriages at all. The only real change is that more loving, committed couples are able to marry and obtain more protections for themselves and their children.

He also said:

"We can debate this issue forever. If legislators really do what they say -- which is to listen to their constituents -- they’ll stop this effort to turn back the clock and allow all New Hampshire families to be treated equally under the law. It’s time [for them] to listen to the people of New Hampshire." 13

However, if the experience in Congress is any indication, some legislatures don't really care what public opinion is. They are driven by political ideology. For example, on 2010-DEC-15, 425 Representatives voted on the repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in the military. It was passed with only 15 Republicans voting in favor. A few days earlier, a poll showed that 77% of voters in the U.S. favored the repeal.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Kevin Landrigan, "Same-sex marriage bill in limbo: Fair poll?," Nashua Telegraph, 2009-MAY-10, at: http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/
  2. Deleted
  3. "New Hampshire Legalizes Homosexual Marriage," CitizenLink, 2009-JUN-03, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  4. Jennifer Mesko, "Is New Hampshire Headed Toward Same-Sex 'Marriage'?" CitizenLink, 2009-MAY-20, at: http://www.citizenlink.org/
  5. "Dym Sum," 2009-MAY-11, at: http://dym-sum.com/
  6. "Questions?," Cornerstone Policy Research, at: http://www.nhcornerstone.org/
  7. Pam Spaulding, "Wash, rinse repeat: Focus on the Family caught lying, this time about a poll," Pam's House Blend, 2009-MAY-14, at:  http://www.pamshouseblend.com/
  8. "Poll shows support for NH gay marriage law," Boston Herald, 2011-FEB-09, at: http://news.bostonherald.com/
  9. Igor Volsky, "New Hampshire Committee To Vote On Repealing Marriage Equality," Think Progress, 2011-OCT-24, at: http://thinkprogress.org/
  10. "Poll Shows Little Support For Repealing Same-Sex Marriage. Voters More Likely To Support Candidate Who Opposes Repeal Of Law," 2011-OCT-13, at: http://www.wmur.com/
  11. "NH Legislature faces tough year, difficult issues," WMUR Granite State Poll, 2012-FEB-07, at: http://www.unh.edu/
  12. Michael K. Lavers, "N.H. Lawmakers Poised to Vote on Marriage Equality Repeal Bill," Edge Boston, 2012-MAR-15, at: http://www.edgeboston.com/
  13. "UNH Granite State Poll Confirms Freedom to Marry Law Remains Popular in New Hampshire," Standing Up for Families, 2012-FEB, at: http://standingupfornhfamilies.org/

Copyright © 2009 to 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2009-JUN-04
Latest update: 2012-MAR-15
Author: B.A. Robinson

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