Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Gay Rights Surge in Colorado, Around the Country

In 1992, Colorado voted (barely) for a ballot initiative that stopped the state’s political jurisdictions from enacting anti-gay discrimination laws.  It was struck down by the Supreme Court a few years later. But, in 2006, Colorado voters adopted an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment and rejected a civil union law.

From that background of hostility to gay rights, a near majority of Colorado voters now join with voters around the country who support gay marriage – one of the most aggressive items on the gay agenda. While the Colorado legislature rejected civil unions in the last session, voters here and around the country have apparently moved on.

The shift in support for gay rights since the early 1990s has been rapid and dramatic.  The latest poll in Colorado conducted by DU shows 49 percent of voters support gay marriage.  New battleground polls by the Washington Post show a “bare majority of voters in Florida and Ohio and nearly half in Virginia support same-sex marriage.  Finally, a September CBS/New York Times poll reported 51 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage.

In this election cycle, four non-battleground states are considering gay marriage ballot initiatives:  Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington.  Polls indicate they are ahead in all but Minnesota.

Gallup records a libertarian-type drift in the country’s opinion, with an increased level of support for gay rights, marijuana use and gun ownership (see recent blogs).  One metric of the shift is that for the first time a majority of Americans say the government should not favor “any particular set of values” in society.  For two decades, people have said traditional values should be promoted by the government (2004 – 56% traditional, 40% no particular values; now – 52% no particular values, 44% traditional).

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