NOM-RI poll: Rhode Islanders want voters to decide same-sex marriage

A new poll commissioned by the National Organization for Marriage finds Rhode Islanders want voters - not legislators - to decide the fate of same-sex marriage by a 74-20 margin.

NOM, of course, opposes gay nuptials. And same-sex marriage supporters will undoubtedly quibble with the way the organization phrased the questions in the survey.

The query about who should decide same-sex marriage reads: "Recently, the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted to redefine marriage to include two persons of the same sex. A resolution has been introduced in the Senate to allow the people to vote on the definition of marriage. Which of these two positions do you think is correct: do you think the definition of marriage should be decided by the voters of Rhode Island, or should it be decided by the Rhode Island General Assembly?"

The "redefine marriage" language, of course, is a bit loaded. There is a reason it appears, frequently, in the talking points of gay nuptials opponents.

Indeed, if NOM is out to convince legislators that the public wants to vote on the matter - or to provide some political cover for legislators already inclined to punt on the issue - the organization might have fared better with an entirely neutral-sounding question.

I'd hazard that a solid majority for a referendum would have emerged in that case, too - a favorable result for NOM, without the baggage.


Update: Devin Driscoll, spokesman for Rhode Islanders United for Marriage, the umbrella group for same-sex marriage supporters, has issued a statement on the NOM-RI poll that reads in part: “Fundamental human and civil rights do not belong on the ballot. Moreover, minority rights should not be subjected to a popular vote of the majority. It is telling, however, that NOM intentionally chose not to ask Rhode Islanders whether they support marriage equality – and that’s because they already know the answer is a resounding yes. Every public survey over the past two years has demonstrated a majority of Rhode Islanders support extending marriage to all loving, committed couples in the Ocean State.”

A January poll from Public Policy Polling had Rhode Islanders favoring gay nuptials 57 to 36 percent. 


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