Claims by the anti-marriage equality group Scotland for Marriage that a new poll shows majority opposition to equal marriage have been called ‘flawed and misleading’ by the Equality Network.
Scotland for Marriage said the ComRes poll, which uses the same questions the agency used for its Catholic Voices poll in February, suggests most Scots oppose same-sex marriage.
The poll also indicated that 50 percent of Scots want a referendum on the question, which the Equality Network said would be “un-Scottish, unfair and a colossal waste of money”.
Respondents to the poll were asked whether they agreed with the statement: “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman.”
55 percent of Scots agreed.
A Scotland for Marriage spokesman said: “When an honest poll is taken, most people in Scotland say they want to keep marriage as it is.”
They added: “We are confident that most respondents oppose the plans and we hope the Scottish Government will not ride roughshod over their wishes.”
But the Equality Network said this afternoon the claim was “confusing and misleading” because the question did not mention same-sex marriage.
It added that the results, taken in this way, would be out of line with major opinion polls on this issue, which have consistently shown two-thirds of Scots support same-sex marriage.
In the poll for Catholic Voices earlier this year, ComRes found 70 percent of people across England, Scotland and Wales agreed with the identical statement: “Marriage should continue to be defined as a life-long exclusive commitment between a man and a woman.”
Commentators at the time had also pointed out that the question made no mention of marriage for gay couples, only an unspecified change to the institution, casting doubt over its use by marriage equality opposition campaigners.
Catholic Voices itself acknowledged that the figures were out of line with other polls and later said on its website that the poll was not in fact designed to “gauge support for same-sex marriage” but to “assess support for the state promoting the existing understanding of marriage”.
It added that if the public “realised” what allowing gay couples an equal right to marry involved, other poll results would fall into line.
In Scotland, a mid-June poll by Ipsos MORI have instead showed 64 percent supported equal marriage with 26 percent opposed.
Separate polls by Populus, YouGov, Angus Reid, and the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey, have shown similar levels of support.
Responding to the calls by Scotland for Marriage for a referendum on the issue, the Equality Network said that whilst they are confident voters would back equal marriage, such a move would go against the core principles of Scotland’s representative democracy.
They point out that all the main political parties made manifesto commitments at the 2011 elections to address the issue in the Scottish Parliament. They also note that the recent ‘AV’ referendum cost the taxpayer over £80million, money that would have to be found from already constrained budgets including health and education at a time of cuts and austerity.
Tom French, Policy Coordinator for the Equality Network, said; “Scotland for Marriage’s claims are based on a confusing and misleading question that didn’t even ask about same-sex marriage. No one disputes that marriage between a man and a woman should continue to be available.
“When asked simply “should same-sex couples be allowed to marry”, two thirds of Scots consistently say yes. If there was a nationwide referendum, conducted fairly, we are sure that Scots would vote for equality for same-sex couples. But that is not the way Scottish democracy works.
“Our MSPs were elected on clear manifesto commitments to consider the evidence, and decide, and we have confidence in them to do that. A referendum would be un-Scottish, unfair and a colossal waste of taxpayer’s money.”
PinkNews.co.uk was unable to reach Scotland for Marriage or ComRes this evening, although it is understood that it is not ComRes’ delivery of the poll but the use of its results which are being called into question.
Scotland for Marriage is made up of CARE for Scotland, The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, The Christian Institute, Destiny Churches, Scotland, The Evangelical Alliance and The Family Education Trust.