As Gay Marriage Vote Approaches, Minnesotans Remain Evenly Divided

With just one week to go before voters in Minnesota and a number of other U.S. states decide on the legality of same-sex marriage, a recent poll has shown that opinions on gay marriage remain evenly split.

Minnesotans will have to decide on whether to approve an amendment that seeks to define marriage strictly between one man and one woman, a question which has largely split America as a whole. There are currently only six U.S states, as well as D.C., who have legalized gay marriage – but if people were to vote in its favor come Nov. 6, the state will become one of the first to make that choice based on a popular referendum rather than the court and legislative system.

The poll, conducted by the Star Tribune Minnesota, noted that 48 percent of likely voters support the constitutional ban on gay marriage. Forty-seven percent of Minnesotans, however, want same-sex marriage legalized. This leaves five percent who are undecided, and their vote is likely to play a significant factor in the Election Day outcome.

The statistics coincide with research done by the pro-gay marriage organization The Four, who analyzed where each of the four states voting on the issue currently stand. A month ago, Minnesotans in favor of preserving traditional marriage held a two-point lead over the opposition, but this was the only state where they had at least a marginal lead in. In three other states, gay marriage seems likely to pass, as gay marriage supporters hold more than a 10 percent lead in Washington, Maryland and Maine.

The Star Tribune, however, asked likely voters more pointed questions and painted a bigger picture of the mindset and stances of respondents. The poll showed that those who have a friend or family member who is gay or a lesbian are less likely to be in favor of preserving traditional marriage.

Furthermore, 70 percent of those who support traditional marriage noted that their church or religious leader helped inform their decision, while only 27 percent of those in favor of gay marriage said that faith played a direct role in the feelings on the matter.

Despite the seemingly even statistics, traditional marriage advocates said they were confident that they have enough support to make sure their side gets the most votes on Election Day.

"The history of polling on this issue shows that support for our side is always under-represented in the polls and the position of our opponents is overstated," said Frank Schubert, campaign manager for Minnesota for Marriage, the lead group pushing the measure. "If that dynamic plays itself out in Minnesota, as I expect it will, we will have a strong win."

Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which is in favor of gay marriage, has said, however, that the tide is turning and people are more willing to vote based on reason than dogma.

"When Minnesotans go to the polls, they'll measure this amendment against their values of freedom and treating others as you would want to be treated," Carlbom said.

In other areas, the poll was also consistent with national feelings about gay-marriage when it comes to the different social groups. Republican men remained the strongest supporters of traditional marriage, while young, urban Democrats remained most likely to vote in favor of game-sex marriage.

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