Poll: 62% of British Now Back Marriage Equality
A new poll from British newspaper the Guardian shows that same-sex marriage support has surged to 62 of British voters.
That means two-thirds have come to agree with Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron's push to legalize gay marriage in 2013. Cameron faces opposition from members of Parliament from his own party.
The poll, taken just before Christmas, found a significant change from the last such poll, conducted by the Sunday Telegraph in March. Only 45 percent then supported marriage equality, with 36 percent opposed.
"That significant hardening of opinion during the year will encourage Cameron, whose embrace of gay marriage has proved controversial, not only with religious leaders but also with the Tory backbench," the article reads. "And the new poll reveals a particularly significant swing towards the reform among the Tory base."
The poll also revealed that 65 percent of women voters were supporters, as opposed to 58 percent of men. Supporters were in the majority in every social class, according to the Guardian poll.
Over two-thirds of members of the U.K.'s Labor Party back marriage equality; 71 percent of Liberal Democrat voters.
The biggest and most vocal opponent has been (no surprise here) the Roman Catholic Church, which noticeably the rhetoric lately. Vincent Nicholas, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, told the BBC, "There was no announcement in any party manifesto; there's been no green paper; there's been no statement in the Queen's speech. And yet here we are on the verge of primary legislation."
Citing the Guardian poll, Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament Lynne Featherstone called the Roman Catholic hierarchy's opposition "shameful." The M.P., who also has a sub-cabinet position in the coalition government, once served as minister for equalities.
"It is very disappointing that religious leaders who object so forcefully to equal marriage seem to have so little faith in their own beliefs," Featherstone told the Guardian. "If their religious beliefs are that marriage can only be between a man and a woman - they should have the confidence in their flocks to believe that too. And if it is their own flocks' potential for disagreeing with them that is their real fear - then that is a matter for religious leaders and their congregations to sort out."
As for the "established church," the Church of England, another poll by another U.K. national newspaper, the Independent showed voters opposing 2 to 1 Camerion's proposal to make it illegal for Anglican churches to conduct same-sex marriages. Two-thirds of survey respondents believe that vicars should be allowed to officiate at such ceremonies if they so wishes. (The Church of England is part of, and titular mother church of, the worldwide Anglican Communion, which includes the Episcopal Church in the United States. The Episcopalians have moved far toward general acceptance of same-sex unions.)
Cameron's aggressive push for marriage equality is also apparently benefitting his standing among LGBT voters. A new poll by Pink News shows growing support, from an abysmal 11 percent in 2010 to 30 percent. Two-thirds of survey respondents attributed Cameron's support for marriage equality as improving his standing in their eyes.
Since LGBT voters in Western democracies heavily support liberal causes and parties, on the surface, this would seem to represent a remarkable sea change. Compare it to nearly a third of American LGBT voters supporting the GOP. Except that that analogy is flawed.
The publisher of Pink News points out that the issue has produced a huge gap between support for the man who heads the party (and the government), and the rank-and-file Tory politicians.
"By proposing same-sex marriage, David Cameron has seemingly improved the standing of the Conservative Party among the gay community," Benjamin Cohen said. "However what's most interesting is that he is considerably more popular than his party within our community. This perhaps reflects the fact that many of the most vocal opponents of introducing this final act of equality for gay people have been Conservative MPs, some of whom represent and have angered the very people who voted in the poll."
Since the prime minister, unlike the American president, is himself a Member of Parliament (he is officially selected by the queen to serve her), Cameron's standing wouldn't appear to benefit the party where it counts -- in local council elections and for members of Parliament.