Advocacy News - Tories play gay marriage numbers game
January 28, 2005
Tories play gay marriage numbers game
By Kevin Flack
While polls are an interesting indicator of our progress towards achieving acceptance within the court of public opinion, they are irrelevant to our progress in achieving equality. The rights of minorities are not determined by the tyranny of the majority. This was made clear in our marriage case, when the Chief Justice for Ontario (and one of the fathers of our Constitution) Roy McMurtry said, "We're not interested in polls". That is why our web site has never ran a poll or conducted mass mailings (we prefer individual contacts - MPs can tell the difference).
Without any credible argument against same-sex marriage, the Tory party recently relied on an old standby, an internal poll, to justify discrimination. Carleton University student Kevin Flack has an interest in media and communications and took a closer look at the gay marriage numbers game.
A few days ago, an internal poll commissioned by the Conservative Party of Canada announced that 57% of Ontarians support the traditional definition of marriage, while 38% are opposed. It also states nationally, 42% support retaining the traditional definition, while 35% remain opposed. People, don't be alarmed or confused by this. This was a poll conducted exclusively by the Conservative party, wherein most members are against same-sex marriage.
Maria McClintock, who wrote an article regarding the poll that appeared in Sun newspapers told me, "We have to remember it is an internal poll for the party. Everyone knows that national polls that have been done over the last year have generally found Canadians split on the issue, with the balance tipping for in those in favour".
Shall we look at the data? Let's Go!
Since 1996, most Canadian adults favour same-sex marriage with residences of Quebec containing the highest support for including gays and lesbians in marriage, where the prairie provinces retained the least.In June 1996, a national Angus Reid / Southam News poll was conducted across Canada showing 49% in favour of same-sex marriage, and 47% opposed.
Alongside this, the study found that those under the age of 30 are much more likely to be supportive than the average, while those over 55 are not.
In June 1999, another survey was conducted by The Angus Reid Group from May 25 to May 30th. The question: "Do you think homosexual couples who wish to marry should or should not qualify for legal recognition of the marriage?" Overall results showed gay-marriage supporters increased by 7% with 53% in favour of gay marriage, and 44% opposed. Quebec and Ontario retained the highest supporters with 61% and 53% supporting same-sex marriage, respectively. The least support was in Alberta with 43% in favour and 56% opposed. The margin of error was 2.5 percentage points, with an accuracy of 19 times out of 20.
In 1999, a majority of Canadians said gay couples should be able to legally get married. The Angus Reid Group survey for The Globe and Mail and CTV found that 53% per cent of Canadians favour legalizing marriage for gays, while 44% were opposed and 3% per cent said they didn't know or were undecided.
In June 2001, Canadian Press / Leger marketing conducted a survey of 1,507 randomly selected Canadian adults on homosexuality, with an accuracy of 19 times out of 20. 76.5% of Canadians responded that gays and lesbians should have the same rights as heterosexuals; while only 19.5% disagreed. The same study asked participants about expanding marriage to include same-sex couples. 65.4% remained supportive, and 80.5% of those polled between 18 and 34 supported same- sex marriage. Only 18.6% of adult Canadians believed that gays and lesbians shouldn't have the same tax breaks.
In June 2002, Strategic Counsel conducted a poll on behalf of the fundamentalist Christian group Focus on the Family Canada. The results showed that 46% of Canadians favoured same-sex marriage, while 44% disagreed. Marriage Equality New York stated that "Focus on the Family was so surprised by the result that it omitted the entire section from its mailings to the media."
In October of 2002, the Centre for Research and Information on Canada poll conducted a survey finding that 53% of Canadian adults supported Same-Sex Marriage, with 41% opposed. 6% were undecided or refused to provide an answer.
In November of 2002, an Ekos Research Associates poll commissioned by the CBC interviewed 1,006 adult on how they would vote on a same-sex marriage referendum, if it were held. The results concluded that 47% opposed same-sex marriage, while 45% were supportive, which the highest support in Quebec with 54$ and the lowest in the Prairies (Saskatchewan and Manitoba) with 39% in favour. In June 2003, the Centre for Research and Information on Canada Poll (CIRC) published the results of a survey on Canadians about their support for allowing gays and lesbians the right to marry. The results, broken down by demographics show a wide support amongst Canadian youth, and less support amongst those over 55. Males 18 to 34 support same-sex marriage with 61.2% in favour, 33.9% opposed, and 4.9% refusing to provide an answer. Males 55+ opposed same-sex marriage by 67.8%, while 24.6% supported and 7.6% didn't provide an answer. Females in all demographics remained supportive, including those 35 to 54 with only 28% opposed and 62.2% in favour of same-sex marriage. The study also asked the same group of people their opinions on the use of the notwithstanding clause, which allows a Government to pass legislation that temporarily violates the Charter. Adults 55+ said they opposed the use of the notwithstanding clause, with 54.% opposed and only 37% supportive. Over 70% of Adults 35 to 54 were opposed, and only 22.5% of adults 18 to 34 supported the use of the clause.
In August 2003, a phone poll was conducted by the NFOCF, who surveyed 1,015 Canadian adults. The poll found that 58% of Canadians reject that marriage should be left to religious institutions; 57% said that same-sex marriage does not threaten their own, while only 32% said they thought it did, and 11% didn't know. 65% said that homosexual couples should be treated the same as heterosexual couples, while only 25% disagreed and 10% gave no opinion. Persons with a higher educational level, women, and urban dwellers tend to be more supportive of SSM. Residents of the Prairies are less supportive.
In September 2003, an SES-Research poll was conducted amongst 1,000 adults over 10 days. It was conducted three months after the Ontario High Court legalized same-sex marriages in Ontario. They found that 47% supported same-sex marriage, 44% opposed, and 9% were unsure. 60% of Canadian adults over 30 supported it, while only 32% of those over 60 did. Again, as expected, support was highest in Quebec and British Columbia (53%) and lowest in Alberta (28%). There are a large percentage of Roman Catholics in Quebec, of secularists and followers of minority religions in British Columbia, and Evangelicals in Alberta.
Also in September 2003, Environics Research Group interviewed 1,500 adult Canadians for the CRIC. The findings showed that 48% of Canadians feel same-sex marriage should be legalized, while 47% remained opposed, and 5% were undecided. 63% of those aged 18 to 35 supported the legalization, those 65 and older supported it by 23%.
In December 2004, Environics Research Group conducted a similar study from December 14th, 2004 to January 05, 2005. The study found a jump of those in favour from the previous year. 54% of Canadians believed Parliament should pass the law, while 43% disagreed - that's a 10% increase of those in favour from the previous year. The survey found that Quebec and British Columbia retained the highest supporters at 60% in both provinces, respectively - with those opposed at 35% in Quebec and 38% in BC. 55% of Ontarians believe Parliament should pass a law to change the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, while 43% remained opposed. The lowest support was, as always, in Alberta with 37% supportive, 61% unsupportive and 3% undecided.
Clearly, the majority of Canadians have for years, and are continuing to this day to support same-sex marriage. There is a divide, but the numbers are clearly in support equality.
"It's one of those issues that's been debated now for a number of years, so we're seeing Canadians are becoming more comfortable with the idea," said pollster Michael Sullivan (The Ottawa Citizen, Jan. 3, 2003).