Gay marriage (a.k.a. same-sex
marriage, ssm, & marriage equality)
Canadian public opinion polls during
2003-JAN to AUG, about two years
gay marriage was legalized.
A battle had been in progress for years over whether equal rights and equal protection
against discrimination should be extended to homosexuals. Recently, this has expanded into
the area of same-sex marriage. The core conflict is whether:
||Marriage should be a special privilege of heterosexuals, and restricted to one
man and one woman. This is currently required by legislation in most
jurisdictions and supported by social conservatives and
most mainline religious institutions in North America, or
||Whether all adults in loving, supportive, and committed relationships should be allowed to
marry or enter into civil unions, regardless of
their sexual orientation, as proposed by more liberal religious groups and some
Since mid-1996, a plurality of Canadian adults appear to favor same-sex marriage.
By 2004-OCT, senior courts, in British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Nova
Scotia and Yukon had concluded
that denial of marriage to gays and lesbians is unconstitutional. A
lawsuit was underway in Saskatchewan at the time of the poll. Funds are being collected for a
suit in New Brunswick.
By 2004-AUG, interest among Canadians about same-sex marriage seems to
have decreased significantly. There have averaged fewer than one letter to the
editor to the Toronto Star -- one of Canada's largest newspapers -- per week on this
topic during the Summer.
Support for same-sex marriage is much higher in Canada than in the U.S. Year 2002 data from the U.S. appears to be close to
Canadian data from 1996. We attribute the difference to the much larger
percentage of fundamentalist and other evangelical Christians in the
U.S., compared to Canada.
2003-JUN? Centre for Research and Information on Canada poll
The Globe and Mail referred to this CRIC poll as "recent" when they
published the results in 2003-JUN-11. The first question was:
support or oppose gay marriages?"
The poll was taken before the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered the Government of Ontario to
start registering same-sex marriages.
|Males 18 to 34
|Males 35 to 54
|Females 18 to 34
|Females 35 to 54
The second question was an apparent reference to the notwithstanding clause of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- Canada's constitution -- which
allows a government in Canada to pass legislation that temporarily violates
the Charter. It asked:
"If the Supreme Court of Canada said that the
federal government had to give days and lesbians the right to be married, do
you think that the government should or should not use its power to overrule
the court's decision."
||Should not veto
|Adults 18 to 34
|Adults 35 to 54
The results are similar to those of previous polls:
||A significant majority of adults favor expanding the institution of
marriage to include same-sex couples.
||Support drops with age for both men and women.
One new piece of information is that the majority of adults of all age
ranges feel that the federal government should accept a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada in favor of same-sex marriage. 1
This poll was conducted via telephone during AUG-25 to 30.
1,015 Canadian adults were surveyed. The margin of error was ±3.2 percentage
points. Results were released on SEP-5. Overall, they found 46% of Canadian
adults favor SSM and 46% are opposed. 2 Pollster Richard
Jenkins noted that few public policy issues have so clearly divided Canadians
along generational lines as SSM. He said:
"Younger Canadians really are on
side with gay marriage, and there's a real danger that this will alienate youth
He found that 61% of adults under 35 support SSM
while 62% of seniors oppose it!
58% reject the concept that marriage should be left to
52% said there is nothing morally wrong with homosexuality.
This was 60% for adults under the age of 25. 33% disagree; 15% gave no opinion.
It is not clear whether the question referred to homosexual orientation or
homosexual behavior. It is also not clear whether the question referred to
homosexuality in general, or homosexual behavior for the individual who was
57% said that SSM does not threaten the institution of
marriage; 32% disagree; 11% gave no opinion.
65% say that homosexual couples should be treated the same as
heterosexual couples. 25% disagree; 10% gave no opinion.
Persons with a higher educational level, women, and urban
dwellers tend to be more supportive of SSM. Residents of the Prairies are less
46% -- almost half -- of Canadian adults are "leaning to the
They sorted data by political party affiliation:
||Concerning new definition of marriage
||Concerning having no legal status for SSM
They also sorted data by region of the country and sex:
% who agree with SSM
somewhat or strongly:
Unfortunately, these data is of limited usefulness because the percentage
who had no opinion were not included. 3,4
Polling data collected later in 2003 is contained in the next essay
- "What Canadians think about gay issues," The Globe
and Mail, 2003-JUN-11, Page A4.
- Susan Lazaruk, "Poll finds even split on same-sex unions. Research
group reveals hot political issue also divides significantly along age lines,"
CanWest News Service, 2003-SEP-8, at: http://www.canada.com/
- "Poll shows Canadians split over same-sex marriage," CBC News,
2003-SEP-4, at: http://www.cbc.ca/
- "Public divided about definition of marriage," NFO World Group,
2003-SEP-5, at: http://www.cbc.ca/ This is a PDF file.
Copyright © 2003 to 2016 by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2003-AUG-31
Latest update: 2016-JUL-20
Author: B.A. Robinson