CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A new poll shows support for LGBT marriage equality rising in North Carolina, a little more than two years after the state passed its anti-LGBT constitutional amendment.
An Elon University Poll surveyed more than 1,000 North Carolinians and found that 45 percent support gay marriage. Opposition stood at 43 percent. Twelve percent of respondents said they didn’t know or had no opinion.
The results are still within the poll’s margin of error, but pollsters say it’s the first time in the history of their polling they’ve seen support for gay marriage rise above opposition.
“Support for gay marriage has picked up 4 percentage points since a spring poll and opposition has dropped 3 percentage points,” Elon University Poll said in a release. “It is the first time that Elon University Poll has found support for gay marriage to be greater than opposition, though it is within the margin of error.”
The leader of North Carolina’s statewide LGBT advocacy group responded positively to the poll’s results.
“The movement for marriage is growing daily in North Carolina, and today more people in your town, your office, your neighborhood than not want loving, committed couples to be able to reap the true rewards and responsibilities of full and legal marriage like never before,” Chris Sgro, executive director of Equality NC, said in a Monday morning release.
Sgro added, “These results simply reflect the dramatic momentum in support of the LGBT community we see every day in every corner of the Tar Heel state. This poll should signal a clarion call to North Carolina leaders that the constituent demand for full LGBT equality is not an ‘if’ proposition, but a ‘when.’”
The rising support comes as four separate federal lawsuits challenge North Carolina’s anti-LGBT marriage amendment, passed by 61 percent of voters in 2012. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper has said he’ll no longer defend the law, a decision he made after the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals stuck down a similar ban in Virginia in July.
Elon University’s poll also asked survey participants about the state’s upcoming U.S. Senate election. Incumbent U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan (D) leads against challenger Thom Tillis, the Republican speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. On other social issues, the poll found a majority of North Carolinians say immigrants are a benefit to the state, “because of their hard work and job skills.” Forty-five percent said state laws should make it less difficult for women to access abortion services.
[Ed. Note — This post was updated to include Chris Sgro’s statement.]