A Washington Post poll published Sunday shows that 56 percent of adult D.C. residents surveyed favor legalizing same-sex marriage in the city compared to 35 percent who said they oppose it, with 9 percent saying they had no opinion.
But the same poll also found that 59 percent of residents surveyed favor putting the issue to a public vote in a ballot measure. The poll found that 37 percent oppose bringing the issue to a citywide vote.
The poll also identified significant differences on the same-sex marriage issue along racial lines. But the opposition to gay nuptials by blacks doesn’t appear to be as strong as local gay marriage opponents have predicted.
An overwhelming 83 percent of whites responding to the poll said they favor legalizing same-sex marriage, while 12 percent oppose it. A bare majority of 51 percent of blacks said they oppose legalizing gay marriage in the District; 37 percent polled said they support it.
According to the survey, 4 percent of whites and 12 percent of blacks said they had no opinion on the issue.
Although the poll’s finding that an overall majority of 56 percent support legalized same-sex marriage at this time, LGBT activists familiar with ballot measures on the issue in other states could view the D.C. poll results with caution. In a number of states, including California, voter support for same-sex marriage dropped sharply following well funded and what LGBT activists called highly negative campaigns waged by same-sex marriage opponents.
Voter initiatives or referenda seeking to prohibit same-sex marriage have won in every state where they’ve been placed on the ballot.
In D.C., a 1978 law barring ballot measures that would result in discrimination against minorities protected by the city’s Human Rights Act has so far prevented local opponents of same-sex marriage from putting the issue up for a public vote. The opponents have vowed to continue to challenge city rulings against a marriage ballot measure in court.
The Post poll shows that white and black voters differ sharply over whether to bring the gay marriage question to a public vote. Among blacks, 70 percent responding to the poll favor holding a citywide vote on the issue, while 25 percent say a ballot measure should not be held. Six percent had no opinion.
Among whites, 58 percent opposed bringing the gay marriage issue to a public vote; 39 percent favored such a vote. Three percent had no opinion.
The Post’s poll included responses from 1,135 adults reached by either landline or cell phone during Jan. 24-28. The paper says the poll has a 3 percent margin of error.