Same-sex marriage & domestic partnerships in Washington State
Public opinion polls on same-sex
Support for same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships:
The Washington Poll describes themselves as a:
"non-partisan, academic survey research
project sponsored by the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity & Race
(WISER), a research center at the University of Washington in the School of
Social Sciences." 1
They have regularly conducted polls of Washington state voters to determine their
position on of same-sex relationships. Each time, they ask the same question: "Which of the
following statements best describes your views on the issue of same-sex
marriage?" margin of error is ~+mn~4.0%,
The possible answers were:
||SSM: "Gay and lesbian couples should have the same legal right to
marry as straight couples."
||Full D.P.: "Gay and lesbian couples should be able to have the same
legal rights as straight couples but it should not be called marriage."
||Partial D.P.: There should be domestic partnerships that give gay
and lesbian couples only some of the benefits and protections of marriage.
||No recognition: There should be no legal recognition of gay and
The most recent poll shows that supporters of SSM
together with supporters of full domestic partnerships outnumber the rest by
about 2 to 1.
The Elway Poll describes themselves as
"... the only independent, [sic] non-partisan, on-going analysis of public
opinion trends in Washington state and the Northwest." 7
During 2009-APR, Elway Research conducted a survey of Washington
voters. It gave only two
options: whether the subject was in favor of or opposed to SSM. The poll was
paid for by the Faith & Freedom Network -- a group opposed to equal
rights for registered domestic partners -- mostly same-sex couples.
One might ask why an anti-equality group would fund a poll on same-sex
marriage when the real question being debated in the state of Washington at the
time was Senate Bill SB 5688. That bill proposed the enhancement of rights, privileges,
protections and obligations of registered domestic partners. The bill
does not contain the term "same-sex marriage." If the bill goes into effect,
same-sex couples will continue to be prohibited from marrying. No domestic
partner would receive any of the the approximately 1,140 federal benefits that
are automatically given to every married couple.
The answer might lie in the advertising campaign mounted against the bill.
Videos were circulated implying that registered domestic partnerships
are the same as same-sex marriage. That advertising campaign may be replicated
later in 2009 as the referendum date approaches.
Results indicated a further increase in
support for SSM since the 2008-OCT Washington Poll:
3,4 However, the 43% support in this poll cannot be precisely
compared to the 37% result from the Washington Poll, because the margin of error
is on each datum is so great (~+mn~4.0%).
As in other polls there is a strong variation of SSM support with age:
||Opposed to SSM
|18 to 35 [sic]
|35 to 54
The variation with gender seems a bit higher than unusual:
||Opposed to SSM
margin of error is ~+mn~5%.
Unfortunately, there are some very serious deficiencies in the polling
procedure, all of which probably underreport support for SSM:
As Benjamin Disraeli once said: "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned
lies, and statistics." There are all sorts of ways to distort reality during polls.
2011-OCT-31: State public opinion poll on same-sex marriage:
The Center for Survey Research at the University of Washington released the results of their poll among registered voters on same-sex marriage (SSM). (N = 938; the margin of error is ~+mn~3.2 percentage points. They reported:
55% of the voters would uphold SSM if it was approved by the Legislature; 38% would be opposed; 7% were undecided or didn't answer. The margin is 17 percentage points, about double that of recent national polls.
44% of the voters prefer that same-sex couples be allowed to marry; 22% preferred the existing registered partnership; 17% felt that their relationships should not be recognized at all. 8
With such heavy support for SSM, most or all of the Democratic representatives and senators may well vote in favor of the proposed SSM bill. However the margin of 17 percentage points among the public in favor of SSM is probably not nearly sufficient for a significant number of Republican lawmakers to support the bill.
See another essay that includes 20 responses to this poll by Seattle Times' readers.
References used in this essay:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
"November 1, 2008 Final 2008 Poll Results," Slide 1 at:
http://www.washingtonpoll.org/ This is a Power Point file.
- Ibid Slide 6.
Dominic Holden, "Poll Accidentally Shows Gay Marriage Gaining Ground,"
Slog news & arts, 2009-APR-27, at:
Proprietary Report: Faith & Freedom Network," 2009-APR, at:
"Knights of Columbus endorse Ref. 71," Protect Marriage Washington,
U.S. Census Bureau, Washington data, 2007 at:
"The Elway Poll," at:
Andrew Garber, "UW poll finds support for gay marriage law," The Seattle Times, 2011-OCT-31, at: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/
Copyright © 2009 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2009-JUL-29
Latest update: 2011-NOV-17
Author: B.A. Robinson