EXCLUSIVE|WINTHROP POLL

EXCLUSIVE: Majority oppose, but more in SC tolerant of same-sex marriage

jself@thestate.comNovember 3, 2013 

  • Should same-sex marriage be recognized? The Winthrop Poll interviewed 887 adults in South Carolina from Oct. 19 to 27. The poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percent. What the poll asked and found:

    Q: Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as a marriage between a man and a woman?

    Should be valid – 38.5 percent

    Should not be valid – 52.2 percent

    Not sure – 6.1 percent

    Refused to answer – 3.2 percent

— INSIDE

More South Carolinians are tolerant of same-sex marriage, but a majority still oppose it, according to a new Winthrop Poll.

More than 52 percent of S.C. adults, polled by Winthrop, said marriages between same-sex couples should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as heterosexual marriages.

But nearly 39 percent said same-sex marriages should be recognized by law and carry the same rights as marriages between a man and a woman.

The poll, which asked the same-sex marriage question exclusively for The State to judge S.C. attitudes after a recent, controversial Supreme Court ruling, surveyed 887 adults living in South Carolina from Oct. 19 to 27. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percent.

“It shows that in the last 12 years, there has been a change or a shift in how South Carolinians feel about the issue,” said Ryan Wilson, executive director of S.C. Equality, a gay, lesbian, transgender and bisexual advocacy group.

“Folks are moving toward understanding that same-sex couples should deserve, at least, the same rights as heterosexual couples.”

Same-sex marriage has been outlawed in state law since 1996, when the state passed a Defense of Marriage law, saying it would not recognize same-sex marriages.

In 2006, S.C. voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment stating that the only lawful, recognizable marriage in the Palmetto State is one between a man and a woman. The amendment passed, 78 percent to 22 percent.

A 2006 Winthrop Poll, taken before voters cast ballots on the constitutional amendment, had results in line with that outcome.

Other polls also suggest South Carolinians’ opposition to legal same-sex marriage is waning.

A 2011 poll from Public Policy Polling showed that 21 percent of S.C. voters said should be legal, with 69 percent saying it should be illegal. In December, another Public Policy poll asked S.C. voters whether same-sex marriage should be allowed – 27 percent said yes, while 62 percent said no.

State Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, who sponsored the House bill that led to the 2006 constitutional amendment, said the most recent Winthrop Poll results – showing that 39 percent of South Carolinians say same-sex marriage should be recognized by law – seem high to him.

“They do surprise me,” he said.

Delleney says the pollsters asked the wrong question. He said they should have asked those polled whether they would favor repealing S.C. current law, which bans same-sex marriage.

The Winthrop Poll asked: “Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as a marriage between a man and a woman?”

Wilson of S.C. Equality said the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling to strike down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, is paving the way for court challenges to state marriage laws across the country.

Two Lexington County women are challenging South Carolina’s 1996 Defense of Marriage law and its 2006 constitutional amendment in a pending federal court case.

Reach Self at (803)771-8658

The State is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service