Ohio voters split over gay marriage, marijuana

A poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University found 45 percent of voters favor same-sex marriage and 47 percent oppose it, a result that is within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Support for same-sex marriage is strongest among college-educated voters, Ohioans in households making more than $100,000, and voters ages 18 to 29. Women are more supportive of it than men: 47 percent of women favor it while only 42 percent of men do.

This is the first time Quinnipiac University has surveyed Ohioans on gay marriage, but a Washington Post poll of Ohio voters in September found 52 percent saying it should be legal and 37 percent saying it should be illegal.

In contrast, 62 percent of Ohio voters approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 that bars the state from recognizing or performing same-sex marriages or civil unions.

Ohio voters may have another crack at it next year.

The Freedom to Marry campaign is collecting signatures for a new constitutional amendment question for the November 2013 ballot that would reverse the 2004 result and allow same-sex marriage. The proposal includes language that would allow religious institutions to opt out of performing the marriages.

The campaign needs 385,245 valid voter signatures by July 3 to make the ballot, said Ian James, chief executive of The Strategy Network, a petition-gathering company donating its time for the effort.

Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values in Cincinnati did not return telephone messages seeking comment on the campaign to overturn the 2004 amendment, which he spearheaded. CCV recently sent out a fundraising email to supporters indicating the group will campaign against the Freedom to Marry effort.

Also for the first time, the Quinnipiac Poll asked Ohio voters whether the use of marijuana should be legal. Forty-seven percent support legalization while 47 percent oppose it.

The strongest support for legalization is among Democrats, African-Americans, people in households making less than $50,000 a year and voters who are younger than 45.

“Ohioans’ views on legalizing the personal use of pot are slightly more conservative than the nation at large,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of Quinnipiac’s polling institute.

Voters in Colorado and Washington this year approved ballot issues to legalize marijuana for personal use. Efforts to make marijuana legal for medical purposes failed to make the Ohio ballot this year.

The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 1,165 registered voters from Dec. 4 to Dec. 9 on land lines and cell phones.

The survey also found:

  • 57 percent think the three new Las Vegas style casinos will be good for Ohio but only 38 percent say they’re likely to visit them;
  • 81 percent oppose changing how the state picks Ohio Supreme Court justices;
  • 52 percent support a new tax on companies drilling for oil and natural gas in Ohio;
  • 51 percent believe schools should better manage the money they have while 37 percent say schools need more money;
  • 52 percent approve of the job Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown is doing and 42 percent approve of the job Republican U.S. Sen. Rob Portman is doing;
  • 39 percent approve of the Ohio General Assembly’s job performance while 38 percent disapprove.

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