Poll: Majority of New Yorkers back gay marriage

A poll released Jan. 27 showed increased support among New Yorkers for legalizing gay marriage. The poll is bolstering the effort to revive a same-sex marriage bill that was narrowly defeated in the state legislature just over a year ago.

A Quinnipiac University poll found 56 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing gay marriage. That’s almost a complete reversal from 2004, when 55 percent opposed legalization.

Regionally, 54 percent of upstaters, 55 percent of New York City voters, and 61 percent of suburban voters supported legalizing same-sex marriage.

Quinnipiac polls in 2009, the latest year the issue was tracked by the pollster, showed 46 percent of voters supported the measure in May, 51 percent supported it in June and 47 percent supported gay marriage in December of that year. None showed support that was beyond the margin of error, as in Thursday’s survey.

The Republican-led New York Senate could take the issue up as early as this spring. The measure has strong support in the Democrat-led Assembly and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports gay marriage.

“New York state voter attitudes about gay marriage have shifted dramatically,” Quinnipiac poll Director Maurice Carroll said.

The bill was defeated in the then-Democrat controlled Senate 24-38 in December 2009. Thirty-two votes are needed to pass legislation. Six of the senators who voted against the bill are no longer in the Senate.

Much of the opposition was based on religious grounds. Supporters framed the issue as a civil right, arguing gay New Yorkers are being denied the same financial, real property and other rights of married couples.

“We look forward to the governor and the legislature working together to carry out the will of the people and pass this legislation, so loving same-sex couples in New York can finally protect each other and their children just like any other family,” said Ross D. Levi, executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda.

Levi said in an interview he sees a “clear and credible” route to passing the bill into law this year.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a Nassau County Republican, said he won’t block the issue from reaching the floor for a vote, though he is personally opposed to gay marriage.

The bill isn’t yet scheduled for committee votes that could bring it to the floor. The Republican majority’s priority is now economic recovery and Cuomo’s budget proposal, which is due Feb. 1.

Quinnipiac questioned 1,436 registered voters from Jan. 18 to Monday. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.