RALEIGH, N.C. — Statewide LGBT advocacy and education group Equality North Carolina has released new data from a recent Elon University poll showing a majority of North Carolinians oppose an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment that would ban marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

The new data contradicts an earlier poll by Durham’s Public Policy Polling and demonstrates opposition to the amendment from a majority of North Carolinians of all ages and races.

On Oct. 12, Public Policy Polling released the results of a Sept. 30-Oct. 3 poll of 671 primary voters that showed the amendment leading 61-34 percent. The Elon University poll, which surveyed voters and non-voters alike, was conducted Sept. 25-29 and showed 56 percent opposed to the amendment.

Of particular note is high opposition to the amendment from African-American voters. Sixty-six percent of African-Americans polled by Elon are opposed to the amendment. Sixty-nine percent favor some sort of legal recognition of same-sex couples’ relationships.

North Carolina House Republicans have attempted to sway the black vote, largely seen as socially conservative, in favor of the amendment. In September, North Carolina House Majority Leader Paul Stam (R-Wake) and Speaker Pro Tem Dale Folwell (R-Forsyth) joined a group of black pastors at a press conference to explain their support for the amendment.

A majority of white poll participants and those of other races were also opposed. Additionally, respondents of all ages voiced opposition to the amendment. Results ranged from 79 percent opposition from those aged 18-24 to just 54 percent opposition from those aged 65 and over. Poll participants of all ages also support some recognition of same-sex couples.

Elon pollsters’ questions differed significantly from those asked by Public Policy Polling. Elon asked, “Would you [support or oppose] an amendment to the North Carolina constitution that would prevent any same sex marriages?” The Public Policy poll, however, used language directly from the amendment’s text, asking, “Would you vote for or against a constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this State?”

The difference in polling results might have been influenced by the nature of the questions asked. Public Policy Polling indicated as much when they released their poll.

“This is really a classic example of how small differences in poll question wording can lead to huge differences in how people respond,” the firm said at the time. “Voters are against ‘prohibiting’ recognition for gay couples. But if you word it in such a way that all you’re doing is defining marriage as between one man and one woman, voters are ok with that.  You’re asking about the same thing in both cases, but the semantics make a huge difference and Republicans clearly know what they’re doing with the language that’s on the ballot.”

Anti-gay groups and activists like the National Organization for Marriage and Mary Frances Forrester, wife of the late state Sen. James Forrester (R-Gaston), have said publicly that amendment supporters should never use terms like “ban same-sex marriage.”

“[Saying ‘ban same-sex marriage’] causes us to lose about ten percentage points in polls. Don’t use it,” Forrester wrote. “Say we’re against ‘redefining marriage’ or in favor of ‘marriage as the union of husband and wife’ NEVER ‘banning same-sex marriage.’”

Forrester’s husband, who served 20 years in the North Carolina Senate and was the primary sponsor of the amendment, passed away on Oct. 31. He was 74.

Equality North Carolina Communications Director Jen Jones said the differences in polling questions and their results expose North Carolinians truest thoughts about the amendment.

“It turns out when you tell people what the amendment does, they don’t like it,” she said in an email to qnotes.

In his first interview with North Carolina press on Thursday, Equality North Carolina’s recently-hired executive director, Stuart Campbell, said it was imperative that his group inform voters about the true extent of the amendment’s reach.

“There is a lot of misinformation about what this amendment does or doesn’t do,” Campbell said. “A lot of people think it will create gay marriage and some people think it will stop only gay marriage. In reality, it does so much more.”

Legal scholars, including some legislators and professors Maxine Eichner and Holning Lau of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Law, have repeatedly warned about the potential, unintended consequences of the anti-LGBT amendment. They have argued its broad, untested language would ban domestic partner benefits for public employees and could impact child custody and visitation, wills, trusts and domestic violence laws.

“I think it is important not only for our community but the community as a whole in North Carolina to realize the extent of harm this amendment could do if it is not defeated on May 8,” Campbell said.

News of opposition to the amendment from a majority of African-American North Carolinians comes just days after Equality North Carolina announced that the North Carolina NAACP president, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, would participate in a keynote panel at their group’s statewide conference in Greensboro on Nov. 12. Barber previously released a lengthy open letter outlining the state NAACP’s opposition to the amendment.

The anti-LGBT constitutional amendment was approved by legislators in September. It will appear on the May 8, 2012, ballot.

more: Keep up with the latest news from Raleigh and updates on the anti-LGBT amendment at our Legislative Watch: goqnotes.com/in/ncga/.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

12 replies on “Elon poll: Tar Heels of all ages and races oppose anti-LGBT amendment”

  1. Ignorance is clearly our main enemy here.

    People oppose this amendment when they know how far it goes. But most people don’t seem to know how far it goes.

    And, even among our allies there is ignorance of when this vote is happening (I’ve heard several people who think this is happening in November), and ignorance of whether or not they can vote (of the people who know this is happening in May, many think that’s the GOP presidential primary only, & don’t think as unaffiliateds or democrats that they’re allowed to vote).

    We need a publicity stunt to create conversations about this amendment. We need signs up in restaurants and shops saying they support or oppose this amendment. Silence is the enemy here. People need to start talking about this amendment.

  2. Perhaps many people don’t see this as an “anti-LGBT amendment”, but rather support of traditional marriage.

    Personally, I think polygany should be legal as well if “gay marriage” is approved.

    What’s great about this country is that we get to vote on this issue, one way or the other.

    So if you believe the majority of North Carolinians support gay marriage, you have nothing to worry about, right?

  3. Another example of how legislative language is being used to confuse or mis-inform the public. As the article indicates, it’s more the use of the word “marriage” as anything other than the union between a man & woman. The public needs to be certain they understand what they are really voting for or against.

  4. The PPP wording is the wording that will be used on the ballot. The Elon wording is obviously meant to produce a specific result. If you are going to say what the amendment will prevent, maybe you should say it will ‘prevent polygamy’ too? It will, after all. If you want to get an accurate result, use the wording on the ballot and screen for likely voters. Elon does neither of these things, and that is why the numbers it gets are wrong.

  5. If gays and lesbians want to live together and do whatever they do together….fine…do it. Just don’t ask me to ordain/approve of what you are doing. I won’t.
    I think gays, etc would fare better if they would stop putting everything they want and do in our face. You come off highly aggressive and pushy about something most do not approve of. So, do whatever you want, but please keep it to yourselves, and stop asking for our approval. You are a long way from getting it.

  6. Gays/lesbians already can’t get married in NC. Yes, let me say that again: gays/lesbians in NC cannot get married, so this whole Republican charade is unnecessary. You can tell they’re nuts by acting like polygamy is allowed in NC. What a complete waste of time, money and power.

    But really, this amendment and most of these comments would be laughable except it all smacks of desperation by old school Republicans clinging to their calcified ways and doing ANYTHING to regrasp the power that’s leaving them behind. Gosh, as if this is more important than creating jobs, instead of deterring companies (you do know that companies all have gay employees, right?) or supporting our universities (you do know there would be some fallout from attracting top talent with a “ban” like this in place). The NAACP is right to oppose this, because if these fools get their way, it will only puff them up to go after other groups (aka, anyone other than middle-aged/old white men). Even if this passes in the spring – and companies leave or avoid NC because of it; exactly what we need these days, right fellas? – it will be overturned within the next 10-20 years. Good on them, I say.

  7. Does anyone believe the supposed results of this poll represent reality?


    Okay, then. Let’s move on.

  8. I love how this post mentions that among people who are actually likely to show up for this vote, we’re outnumbered 2 to 1. Then it talks at length about what the people who aren’t going to show up for the vote think. Don’t you think it would be more important to discuss the poll that focused on the people who will actually be deciding this matter?

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