Nevadans Cool to Gay Marriage Amendment

By  | 

Nevada voters are cool to the idea of amending the U.S. Constitution to ban gay marriage, according to a statewide newspaper poll.

Fifty percent of likely voters polled last week for the Las Vegas Review-Journal said they would oppose amending the federal Constitution to ban gay marriage, while 43 percent said the would support an amendment. Seven percent were undecided.

The survey of 625 registered voters, conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., had a sampling error margin of 4 percentage points.

Nevada voters approved a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages in 2002, and President Bush last month backed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, citing a ruling by Massachusetts' highest court and a rush of San Francisco same-sex weddings.

But Joan Howarth, associate dean at the Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said voters were skeptical about amending the federal Constitution.

"Many people in Nevada believe that changing the Constitution should only be done in cases in which it's absolutely necessary," Howarth said. "Voters in Nevada are also often sympathetic to state's rights issues."

The poll found 65 percent of Democrats opposed the federal Constitutional amendment, while 53 percent of rural Nevadans said they would support it.

Mason-Dixon pollster Brad Coker also tested Nevada voters before the 2000 and 2002 votes to change the state constitution. He said he didn't believe there had been a shift toward support of gay marriage.

"What we're finding around the country is that people oppose gay marriage and also oppose the constitutional amendment," Coker said.