Reports of an online poll appear to show that half of gay and bisexual Britons reject the idea that there is “no need” to change the law on marriage because of civil partnerships, and 77 percent do not accept that marriage should be reserved exclusively for straight people.
The full details of the ComRes poll commissioned by religious campaign group Catholic Voices will not be released until the weekend, but some figures have been reported this morning in the Daily Telegraph as signalling “doubt” in the gay community.
From the report, it appears only 26 percent of gays agreed with the idea that as civil partnerships already provided the legal benefits of marriage, there was “no need” to change the law.
49 percent rejected that argument, with 25 percent unsure.
And aside from the legal point, 77 percent of Britain’s gay community supported marriage equality between gay and straight couples on principle.
The ComRes sample was of 541 respondents who described themselves as “gay, lesbian, bisexual or other”.
Although unable to provide the data to PinkNews.co.uk this morning pending the release of further results over the weekend, ComRes’ Director of Research said the sample size was “robust” enough to draw the above conclusions with a margin of error of 4.21 percent given that the gay and trans community is a minority.
While it is not yet possible to know the wording of the questions, the Telegraph reports that 77 percent of gay people disagreed with the idea that marriage should only be “between a man and a woman”.
39 percent said it was a “priority” for the gay community.
Around half of the gay people asked thought Prime Minister David Cameron was pursuing the policy “to make his party look more compassionate” rather than out of genuine conviction for equal marriage rights.
47 percent agreed that not allowing gay couples to marry would “worsen public opinion” of the gay community. More than seven in ten believed marriage should be “more about love between two people than it is about rearing children”
Dr Austen Ivereigh of Catholic Voices said the idea of equal marriage “divides gay people as well as everyone else”.
The last ComRes poll commissioned by Catholic Voices showed 70 percent of people believed marriage should “continue to be defined as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman”.
When the results were used by the Coalition for Marriage in adverts opposing government plans for civil marriage equality, the survey was criticised for not directly mentioning marriage for gay couples or detailing what any change to the definition would entail.
Catholic Voices acknowledged that the figures, when used in this way, were out of line with other polls, including one by ICM for the Sunday Telegraph which showed more people were in favour of equal marriage than opposed.
It clarified that the purpose of its ComRes poll “was not to gauge support for same-sex marriage” but to “assess support for the state promoting the existing understanding of marriage”.
Though polls which did ask about equal marriage had shown more people in favour of it than opposed, Catholic Voices said “many people did not grasp” what they were being asked.
If the public “realised” what allowing gay couples an equal right to marry involved, other results would fall into line with theirs, which did not mention equal marriage, the group claimed.
The Coalition for Marriage adverts which represented the 70 percent figure as showing mass opposition to civil marriage equality are the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority over claims they are “misleading”.