Indiana survey shows public support for some gay rights

Posted on 18 May 2006 at 11:52pm
By Associated Press

Poll commissioned by GLBT group Indiana Equality did not include general question on support for same-sex marriage

INDIANAPOLIS A majority of Indiana residents favor hospital visitation rights and inheritance rights for gay people, according to a survey released Wednesday.

However, the poll commissioned by the gay rights group, Indiana Equality, did not include a general question about gay marriage, which previous polls have show people are against.

The telephone poll found that 74 percent of those surveyed said same-sex couples should have hospital visitation rights. About 53 percent supported inheritance rights for same-sex couples.

Indiana University Center for Survey Research conducted the poll using random dialing to talk to 504 adult Indiana residents from Nov. 11, 2005 through Dec. 27, 2005. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

The poll shows that residents support legal rights associated with marriage, but most people think of marriage as something more than rights, said Ellen Andersen, a political science professor at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.

Religious significance and a transition into adulthood also play a role, she said.

“Marriage has a dual nature in this country religious and legal,” said Andersen, who developed questions for the survey. “When most people think about getting married, they think about getting married in their place of worship.”

Seventy-nine percent of those surveyed also said they support civil rights protections for gays and lesbians.

Walter Botich, legislative co-chair for Indiana Equality, said local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation cover nearly 22 percent of Indiana’s population.

“This growing trend highlights the need to change our state law to include these protections for all Hoosiers,” Botich said.

Micah Clark, executive director of the American Family Association of Indiana, said many of the rights discussed in the survey already are available to gays through life insurance policies, wills and other legal instruments. He said gay couples should be treated no differently than heterosexual couples that live together but do not marry.

“What they’re asking for is special marital protections, but Indiana doesn’t have that, and Indiana doesn’t support that. Marriage is between a man and a woman,” Clark said.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, May 19, 2006.

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