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Published October 28 2012

Minn. poll: Fight over ban on gay marriage in dead heat

MINNEAPOLIS – The fight over a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Minnesota is in a statistical dead heat, according to results from the latest Star Tribune Minnesota Poll published Sunday.

The Star Tribune reported that 48 percent of likely Minnesota voters support the amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman, while 47 percent of Minnesotans oppose the change. Five percent are undecided.

A September Minnesota Poll had similar results.

Those in favor of the amendment are short of the 50 percent needed to change the state constitution. Minnesota law already bans gay marriage, but supporters of the amendment worry that future courts or Legislatures could change the law if it’s not outlined in the constitution.

The poll was conducted among 800 likely voters who were contacted by cellphone and land line from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The poll showed that people who have a friend or family member who is gay or lesbian are more likely to oppose the amendment. Among those who plan to vote against the amendment, 54 percent know someone who is gay or lesbian. Forty percent of those who support it say they have gay or lesbian friends or relatives.

Of those who support the amendment, 70 percent say religious leaders played a role in their decision, while 26 percent say faith leaders had little or no impact. Among amendment opponents, 27 percent said a faith leader played a significant role.

Republican men in the suburbs are among the amendment’s strongest supporters, while opponents see most of their support from voters who are younger than 35, Democrats and live in urban areas.

“I go to a Christian church and as far as everything I read in the Bible, a marriage is between a man and a woman,” said Brad Nelson, a 54-year-old farmer from East Grand Forks.

He said he knows gay people in his community and doesn’t have a problem as long as they keep to themselves.

“As far as a gay person getting married, I don’t think that’s the way it is supposed to be,” Nelson said.

Gender is also a split, with 54 percent of men surveyed favoring the amendment and 52 percent of women opposed.

“What’s the point of voting for something when it is already a law?” asked Jennifer Collis, a 25-year-old Democrat from St. Paul. She will be voting no, calling the proposal “a giant waste of time.”