Polls Show Ireland Still Likely to Vote Yes on Marriage
The yes vote in Ireland's same-sex marriage referendum on Friday still holds the lead, although support is down from higher percentages in the mid-70s just weeks ago, three separate polls found.
The referendum, scheduled for May 22, asks voters to decide whether or not language should be added to the country's constitution that would extend the right to marry to all couples, regardless of gender.
The Sunday Business Post-REDC poll, which previously showed 72 percent of voters supporting the freedom to marry, now shows support at 69 percent. The same poll reflected a five-percentage-point jump in support for a no vote, bringing that number to 25 percent.
A small portion of the anti-equality vote's rise may have come from the undecided column, as undecided voters fell two percentage points to 6 percent in the Sunday Business Post-REDC poll.
"However, past referendums have shown that those who claim to be unsure how they will vote running up to a referendum, are far more likely to end up voting 'no,'" wrote polling and research company, REDC's Richard Colwell on the company's website. "They vote for the status quo rather than any change, as this way they keep to what they know."
Meanwhile, The Sunday Times Behaviour and Attitudes Poll indicated a sharp 10-percentage-point decline in support for a pro-equality outcome in the referendum. Now, according to the poll, just 63 percent of voters will vote yes. That's down from 73 percent who planned to vote yes in March.
The Times-B&A poll was conducted in person with 927 voters between May 1 and 11 and was reported in the London-based Sunday Times this weeked under the headline, "Gay Marriage Support Falling." That ominous header notwithstanding, the Times' analysis of the Irish referendum noted, "The failure of the 'no' campaign to capitalise on the slip in support for gay marriage will hearten 'yes' voters, but spur opponents to press on in the hope of further closing the gap ahead of the vote this Friday."
In an interview with national broadcaster RTÉ, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said he was not surprised that some support had shifted to his, the Catholic Church's, and some Irish conservatives' position against marriage equality.
"For a long time, we were led to understand there was not much to this", he told RTÉ. "But now people are realizing that is not the case."
Bishops throughout Ireland have been sending letters to their congregants urging them to vote no.
A third poll, conducted by The Sunday Independent and Millward Brown, showed the biggest drop in anticipated yes votes. Previously that survey reflected a 63 percent level of support for same-sex marriage; now it shows 53 percent.
But pro-equality forces remain undaunted. Ursula Halligan, one of Ireland's best-known television journalists, came out as a lesbian Friday in a moving opinion piece supporting a yes vote.
"As a person of faith and a Catholic, I believe a Yes vote is the most Christian thing to do," Halligan wrote in The Irish Times. "I believe the glory of God is the human being fully alive, and that this includes people who are gay. If Ireland votes Yes, it will be about much more than marriage. It will end institutional homophobia."
But in light of the drop in support in recent weeks — and with less than a week to go before Ireland's referendum on the freedom to marry — the yes campaign clearly has its work cut out for it.