Two new polls released Sunday show that Massachusetts lawmakers could be bucking public opinion if they try to thwart the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling last week that found the state's ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. Fifty percent of 400 Massachusetts residents surveyed for a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV poll said they agree with the ruling, while 38% oppose it. A separate Boston Sunday Herald poll of 405 residents found that 49% favor legalizing gay marriage, while 38% oppose it. Both polls, conducted after Tuesday's ruling, had margins of sampling error of plus or minus five percentage points. "If people want to be together, who cares? Let them," said Bill Luff, 32, a nightclub owner in Worcester.
In its ruling, Massachusetts's highest court gave the legislature 180 days to change the state's marriage laws for the benefit of gay couples. Some state lawmakers are now pushing for a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage. Others, including Gov. Mitt Romney, suggest passing a law that would give same-sex couples something short of marriage, similar to Vermont's civil unions.
Both polls found that a majority of respondents oppose the proposed constitutional amendment: 53% against and 36% in favor, in the Globe/WBZ poll, and 54% against and 36% in favor, in the Herald poll. Another poll, by Merrimack College, found that 75% of Massachusetts adults support allowing either gay marriage or civil unions. That poll, of 491 adults, was conducted in the days before and after the decision, but the numbers didn't shift after the ruling. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus five percentage points.
The polls appear to show more support for gay couples in Massachusetts than the nation as a whole. A recent national poll by the Pew Research Center for People and the Press found that Americans oppose legalizing gay marriage, 59% to 32%. That survey, of 1,515 adults, was conducted October 15-19 and had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.