Support for readdressing laws opening marriage to same sex couples has fallen, a survey suggests.
Canadians for Equal Marriage released a poll conducted by Environics Research Group asking whether people support equal marriage and whether the Conservative government should re-open the issue and have another vote or whether the issue is settled and there should not be another vote.
The results show that Canadians are increasingly comfortable with the idea of equal marriage. At the same time they are overwhelmingly opposed to re-opening the issue in Parliament.
Same sex couples have been allowed to legally marry in some parts of Canada since 2003 and all over the country since last year.
By a more than a 2 to 1 margin, Canadians who expressed an opinion consider this matter settled and are against having another vote. 62% of respondents consider the matter settled while only 27% want another vote and 11% did not express an opinion. A majority of Conservative voters (52%) are against re-opening, while only 38% want to re-open the issue and 10% did not express an opinion.
The poll also asked whether “same-sex couples should have the same right to civil marriage as opposite-sex couples.” Of those with an opinion, respondents were 64% to 36% in favour of equal marriage. 59% of all respondents agreed, only 33% disagreed and 8% did not express an opinion. Even more telling, those who strongly agree with equal marriage outnumber those who strongly disagree by 36% to 24%. Conservative voters were evenly split, 47% to 47%.
The highest support for equal marriage and strongest opposition to re-opening was in Quebec, where support for equal marriage is running at 67% in favour and 27% against and opposition to re-opening is 68% to 21%. That means that over three quarters of Quebecers with an opinion are opposed to re-opening.
“This latest polling demonstrates that overall opposition to equal marriage has declined since passage of the federal legislation,” said Derek Leebosh of Environics Research Group. “In addition, the strength of the opposition that remains has also fallen and this drop was even more pronounced among Conservative voters, where strong opponents have fallen from 46% to 35%.”
“These polls confirm what we already knew – that 2/3 of Canadians consider the matter settled and want to move on,” said Laurie Arron, national coordinator of Canadians for Equal Marriage. “While equality for minority groups should never be subject to the tyranny of the majority, it’s encouraging that so many Canadians, and so many Conservative voters, are against having another vote.”
“With many same-sex couples celebrating their third anniversary this month, I think it’s obvious to Canadians that equal marriage hasn’t hurt anyone,” continued Mr. Arron. “There’s simply no reason to re-open this divisive debate.”
June 10 marked the third anniversary of equal marriage in Canada. On June 10, 2003, the first marriage licences were issued to same-sex couples following the historic Ontario Court of Appeal ruling that day. Since then, over 10,000 same-sex couples have been legally married in Canada.
2,001 people were surveyed between May 25 and June 2, 2006, and the poll results are considered accurate to within 2.1 percentage points, 95 times out of 100.
The Canadian Parliament will decide whether to scrap gay marriage laws which were adopted last year.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper came to power last January campaigning to reopen the debate on laws governing same sex partnerships in the country.
Mr Harper said: “It will be a free vote and the vote will be in the autumn.”
The change in the law would constitutionally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The gay marriage law was brought in by the outgoing Liberals.
Both supporters and opponents say any vote would be very tight, especially since he does not control a majority of the 308 seats in the House of Commons.