March 6, 2013
By Jacob Combs
Fifty-three percent of Minnesotans believe the state’s marriage equality ban should stay on the books, while 38 percent believe it should be overturned by the legislature this year, according to a new Star Tribute Minnesota Poll.
The marriage equality conversation has shifted quickly in the North Star State, which last year became only the second state in the country where voters rejected a constitutional amendment banning equal marriage rights.
Minnesota statute still prohibits marriage equality, although a bill to allow marriage for same-sex couples was introduced on February 27 by state Senator Scott Dibble and Representative Karen Clark. House Speaker Paul Thissen told the Star Tribune that he was surprised by the strength of opinion against the measure in the new poll:
“There have been a number of polls on the issue. The trend in general is moving toward acceptance of marriage equality. There will certainly be more conversation on this. Our members are talking to their constituents, which is more important than any poll.”
Not surprisingly, support for marriage equality is strongest in the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, with 57 percent supporting the proposed legislation and 35 percent opposing it. The numbers in the suburbs surrounding the two cities are closer but still show plurality support for equal marriage rights by a 46-44 percent margin.
In rural Minnesota–’outstate,’ as it is known–opposition to marriage equality is much more pronounced, with only 27 percent supporting a change in legislation and 73 percent of the opinion that the marriage equality ban should stand.
As is almost always the case in such surveys, women are more likely to support equal marriage than men, and younger respondents are more supportive than older respondents. By a wide margin, Democrats (known in Minnesota as DFLers, for the Democratic Farmer Labor Party) are much more likely to favor changing the law than Republicans. Independents are opposed to changing the law.
“It’s no secret that Minnesotans are pretty divided on the subject,” Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a DFLer, told the Star Tribune. “Members are going to do what they think personally, based on what their constituents are telling them.” Bakk said that the bill will proceed out of committee if it has the votes, and if not, it will be tabled until next year.