Florida Poll Underscores Shifting Views on Same-Sex Unions

Photograph by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Four gay and lesbian Miami-Dade couples accompanied their lawyers to the clerk's office at the U.S. courthouse to file the first federal lawsuit challenging federal and state laws prohibiting same-sex marriages as a violation of the Constitution in this file photo.

Back in May, just after President Barack Obama decided to finally come off the fence and endorse same-sex marriage, Florida Republican Gov. Rick Scott saw the move as a political mistake in his highly competitive state.

“It will hurt the president here in Florida, his position,” Scott said on CNBC, noting that just four years ago, more than 60 percent of the state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Obama, of course, ended up carrying Florida as part of his re-election win. And a poll released today shows that over the eight months since Scott’s tea-leaf reading of his state, opposition to same-sex marriage among his constituents has dropped from a 10-percentage-point margin to a 2-point  difference — yet another sign of rapidly changing attitudes toward such unions.

Forty-five percent of registered voters in Florida were against same-sex marriage while 43 percent favored it, according to the survey by Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University. A Quinnipiac poll released May 23 showed 50 percent of Floridians opposing wedding bells for gay couples, while 40 percent were in support.

Here’s an even more dramatic contrast: A 2004 poll by the Maimi Herald and St. Petersburg Times found 65 percent opposing same-sex marriage in the state, compared with 27 percent who back it.

The new poll — taken Dec. 11-17 and with an error margin of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points — follows the November election in which voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state approved referenda legalizing same-sex marriage, marking the first time such measures have passed. Previously, same-sex marriage became legal in states including Massachusetts and New York as a result of legislation or court rulings.

A national Quinnipiac poll released earlier this month showed a slight plurality of U.S. voters supporting same-sex marriage, 48 percent to 46 percent. In a comparable 2008 survey, 55 percent opposed the unions while 36 percent backed them.

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