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Polls Finds Mass. Gay Marriage Ruling OK

November 23, 2003

BOSTON (AP) _ Two new polls released Sunday show Massachusetts lawmakers could be bucking public opinion if they try to thwart the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling last week that found the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional.

Fifty percent of Massachusetts residents surveyed for a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll said they agreed with the ruling, while 38 percent opposed it. A separate Boston Sunday Herald poll found 49 percent said they support legalizing gay marriage, while 38 percent oppose it.

Both polls, conducted after Tuesday’s ruling, had margins of sampling error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

``If people want to be together, who cares? Let them,″ said Bill Luff, 32, a nightclub owner in Worcester.

In its ruling, Massachusetts’ highest court gave the Legislature 180 days to change the state’s marriage laws for the benefit of gay couples. Some state lawmakers are now pushing for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage and effectively skirt the ruling. Others, including Gov. Mit Romney, suggest passing a law giving same-sex couples something short of marriage, similar to Vermont’s civil unions.

Both polls released Sunday found opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment _ 53 percent opposed and 36 percent in favor in the Globe/WBZ poll of 400 Massachusetts resident, and 54 percent opposed and 36 percent in favor in the Herald poll of 405 residents.

Another poll, by Merrimack College, found that 75 percent of Massachusetts adults support either allowing gay marriage or civil unions. That poll of 491 adults was conducted in the days before and after the decision, but the numbers didn’t shift after the ruling. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 5 percentage points.

The polls appear to show more support for gay couples in Massachusetts than the nation as a whole. A recent national poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found Americans oppose legalizing gay marriage, 59 percent to 32 percent. That survey, of 1,515 adults, was conducted Oct. 15-19 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

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