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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex civil partnerships & marriages in the UK and Wales

2012-MAR: SSM polls. Catholic laity
instructed to oppose same-sex marriage.
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This is a continuation of an earlier discussion for the year 2011

In this web site, the term "SSM" means "same-sex marriage,
We prefer this term to "gay marriage" because it is more inclusive.
Most loving committed same-sex couples consist of two lesbians or two gays.
However, a minority consist of a gay or lesbian plus a bisexual, or even two bisexuals.

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2012-MAR-08: Results of a Catholic Voices poll:

Catholic Voices sponsored a poll by ComRes concerning same-sex marriage in the UK. The found that opposition to SSM  among voters was support by a factor greater than 3 to 1. Two thousand adults were asked whether they agreed with the statement:

"Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman."

Results were:

  • 70% are opposed to SSM
  • 22% support SSM
  • 8% didn't know or did not answer.
  • The margin of error is approximately ±2.2 percentage points.

  • 59% thought that same-sex couples should only be "... legally recognised through the civil partnership scheme."

  • Opposition to SSM was reported as:
    • 66% among persons aged 18 to 24.
    • 81% among those over 65 years-of-age.

  • 84% agreed with the statement that children: "... have the best chance in life if raised by their own mother and father in a stable, committed relationship."
  • The definitions of the terms "mother" and "father" were left up to the persons taking the poll. To some it may refer to the genetic parents; to others it might include adopting parents as well.

Dr Austen Ivereigh, coordinator of Catholic Voices, said:

"Our poll shows that the Government has no mandate to alter an institution which lies at the foundation of our society. ... British people believe that gay relationships should be recognised by the state through civil partnerships. ... But they are clear that marriage is a unique institution which needs to be promoted because of the benefits to children of being raised by a mother and a father. ... These results are a clear warning to Government that it is at odds with the public on this issue." 1

These data conflict with many other polls. Two examples are:

  • A Gallup poll in 2004 found that 52% of the adult population supported same-sex marriages in the UK.

  • A Scottish Social Attitudes Survey in 2010 found that 78% of Scottish adults supported same-sex marriage.

  • Other polls are listed elsewhere in this web site.

How can:

  • One poll say that 70% of the population is opposed to SSM and 22% support it, while

  • Other polls say the opposite?

There are many techniques that can be used to design opinion polls that sway the results. Assuming that the results were reported acurately, one reason for the disagreement was:

  • The Catholic Voices poll basically asked whether the subject wanted to redefine marriage.

  • The Populus Poll, reported below, asked whether same-sex couples should have equal rights to marry.

Balaji Ravichandran of Pink News, a pro-marriage equality group -- suggests that the Catholic Voices poll was deeply flawed because of the wording of the questions, the order in which the questions were asked, and the implications by the questions that marriage equality would undermine the institution of marriage.

Finally, the method of polling is suspect. It was allegedly conducted primarily online through pop-up ads and invitations to participate in a poll. Ravichandran suggests that the pop-up ads and invitations may have been placed primarily or only on religious web sites. If so, then the poll only reflects the very high opposition to SSM among religious conservatives, and not among the general population. Such opposition is well known. 1,2

Webmaster's opinin\on: Bias alert:

If the poll is heavily biased by its methodology, then the results should not be used to imply that most of the adult population of England and Wales is opposed to SSM. To say that it does represent general public opinion would drastically weaken the credibility of the polling agency and of Catholic Voices.

We suspect that the Catholic Voices poll is simply that: a reflection of the voices and opinions of those Catholics who visit certain religious web sites.

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2012-MAR-10: UK Catholics instructed at mass of their duty to oppose same-sex marriage:

Just before the Government's start of the consultation with the public over same-sex marriage, a letter was read at mass to all 2,500 Catholic congregations in England and Wales. It states that each member of the laity has a duty to ensure that same-sex couples be prohibited from marrying in either civil or religious ceremonies.

In the letter, the Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster, wrote that allowing same-sex couples to marry would be a "profoundly radical step" stripping marriage of its "distinctive nature." The letter was co-signed by the Archbishop of Southwark, the Most Reverend Peter Smith.

The letter claimed that marriage is a "natural institution" that is "at the foundation of our society." Marriage has meaning far beyond Catholicism. To extend marriage to same-sex couples would reduce marriage to merely a vague commitment between two persons. 3

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2012-MAR-11: Results of a Populus Poll public oplinion survey:

Pink News which describes themselves as "Europe's largest gay news service," reported on a Populus Poll taken MAR-10/11. A thousand voters in Scotland, England and Wales were asked by phone whether they agreed with the statement:

"Gay couples should have an equal right to get married, not just to have civil partnerships."

Results were:

  • 65% support SSM;
  • 27% disagreed with SSM;
  • 8% didn't know or did not answer.
  • The ratio of support to opposition exceeds 2 to 1.
  • The margin of error is approximately ±3.2 percentage points.

  • Support in Scotland was 66%.
  • The greatest percentage of support, as expected, is among women aged 18 to 34.
  • About 75% agree that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples should have equal rights.
  • 59% agree that same-sex couples should have adoption rights identical to opposite-sex couples.
  • 58% agree that students should be taught that same-sex and opposite-sex marriages have equal status. 4

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Discussion on this topic continues later in 2012-MAR...

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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. Stephen Gray, "Poll: 70 percent of Britons oppose equal marriage,"  Pink News, 2012-MAR-08, at:
  2. Balaji Ravichandran, "Analysis: Did the Catholic Voices poll show a Britain opposed to gay marriage? Not really," Pink News, 2012-MAR-09, at:
  3. Stephen Gray, "Catholics will be told of their ‘duty to oppose gay marriage’ at Mass this weekend," The Telegraph, 2012-MAR-06, at:
  4. Stephen Gray, "Poll: 65 percent of British agree gays should have equal right to marry," Pink News/K, 2012-MAR-15, at:

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Site navigation:

 Home page > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > SSM > UK > here

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Copyright © 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2012-MAR-20
Latest update: 2012-MAR-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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