Two in three Oklahomans oppose gay marriage with areas of greater support for the issue found among Democrats, younger voters and urban area dwellers, according to an Oklahoma Poll.
The poll, among 393 likely voters statewide, found that 66 percent answered that they either strongly oppose or somewhat oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry.
The poll found that 58.1 percent of those asked said they strongly opposed gay marriage, while 8.1 percent were somewhat opposed to the issue.
Poll participant Susan Harrison of Sallisaw said she was strongly opposed to allowing same-sex couples to marry.
“I’m a Christian and I believe what the Bible says, and it says it’s an abomination,” she said.
Other results of the poll found that 15.5 percent said they strongly supported allowing same-sex couples to marry, while 7.8 percent said they somewhat supported the issue.
About 11 percent of those polled said they had no opinion on the issue.
Opposition to gay marriage was stronger among those identifying themselves as Republicans, with 77.9 percent of respondents saying they opposed the issue either strongly or somewhat.
Among Democrats, nearly 58 percent said they opposed gay marriage with 1 in 3 saying they supported the issue and about 12 percent having no opinion.
About 24 percent of independent voters, who make up about 12 percent of the electorate, said they supported permitting same-sex couples to marry.
Among those self-identifying themselves as liberals, 55.1 percent said they supported gay marriage compared to 12.2 percent of conservatives and 33.2 percent of those identifying themselves as moderates.
Tulsan and poll participant Judy Stanford said her opinion on the issue has evolved over time.
“When the issue first came up I wasn’t so sure, but I just feel like they have the right to get married,” Stanford said. “Who am I to judge?”
Stanford said she believes gay couples should be permitted to marry so they have the same rights as married couples.
“I don’t agree with the lifestyle, but it’s their choice, their lives, and it doesn’t affect me,” Stanford said.
Harrison said she believes the courts may eventually rule in favor of gay marriage.
“The way our court system is set up now,” she said. “They probably will approve it, but that doesn’t make it right.”
Oklahoma is one of several states where the battle over the right of same-sex couples to marry is being waged in the courts.
A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that Utah’s ban on same sex marriages was unconstitutional.
The ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver pertains to a ban in the Utah state constitution against same-sex marriages, which is similar to a ban in Oklahoma’s constitution.
Wednesday’s ruling foreshadows a pending ruling by the appeals court on same-sex marriages in Oklahoma because of the similarity of the two cases and because the same judges who made the ruling will make the ruling in the Oklahoma case.
In addition to Oklahoma and Utah, federal or state judges in Oregon, Idaho, Virginia, Michigan, Texas and Arkansas recently have found state same-sex marriage bans to be unconstitutional. Judges also have ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.
The U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a portion of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. It determined the law improperly deprived gay couples of due process.
Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly approved a gay marriage ban in 2004.
U.S. District Judge Terence Kern of Tulsa ruled in January that Oklahoma’s ban violated the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution. He immediately stayed his ruling, preventing any same-sex marriages from taking place while the ruling was appealed.
The case was brought by Mary Bishop, Sharon Baldwin, Sue Barton and Gay Phillips. Bishop is a Tulsa World editor, while Baldwin is a former Tulsa World editor.
Public opinion in Oklahoma regarding gay marriage has changed some in recent years, according to the poll results.
About six in 10 of those polled said their attitudes towards gays and lesbians had not changed in the past few years. About 28 percent said they have become more accepting towards gays and lesbians in the past few years. Eight percent said they had become less accepting of gays and lesbians.
Opposition to gay marriage was strongest in rural areas, with nearly 74 percent saying they either strongly opposed or somewhat opposed the issue and 17 percent favoring it, according to the poll.
About 30 percent of those polled who lived in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City areas said they favored gay marriage.
Opposition to gay marriage was strongest among the older age groups polled. Some 73 percent of those 65 and older said they opposed gay marriage.
Conversely, about 42 percent of those polled who were between age 25 and 34 said they supported gay marriage.
Asked if they had a gay family member, friend, co-worker or personal acquaintance who was gay or lesbian, some 70 percent of those polled said they did.
The poll was conducted by SoonerPoll.com and taken June 4-12. It has a 4.9 percent statewide margin of error.
A Bloomberg News National Poll taken between May 31 and June 3, 2013, found that 52 percent of the nation supported allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Curtis Killman 918-581-8471