Fifty-three percent of Minnesotans say the state statute banning same-sex unions should stand, 38 percent say legislators should overturn the law this year, and 9 percent are undecided, according to a poll commissioned by the Star-Tribune.
The new poll offers a fresh snapshot of an issue that has divided the state, and comes just days after lawmakers launched a long-anticipated effort to legalize gay marriage in Minnesota by this summer.
House Speaker Paul Thissen said he found the poll results surprising.
“There have been a number of polls on the issue. The trend in general is moving toward acceptance of marriage equality,” said Thissen, a Minneapolis Democrat.
“There will certainly be more conversation on this. Our members are talking to their constituents, which is more important than any poll.”
Sponsors of the gay marriage bill aim to repeal Minnesota’s 1997 law that prohibited marriage between couples of the same sex. The bill exempts churches from being forced to perform same-sex weddings.
Richard Carlbom, campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which is leading the effort to legalize same-sex marriage, disagreed with the poll’s findings, and said his group’s research shows that most Minnesotans want gay and lesbians to be allowed to marry and that an even larger majority believes the change will have no effect on them personally.
State Sen. Scott Dibble (D-Minneapolis), who married his partner in California four years ago before Proposition 8 took away that right, said his bill’s simple aim is: “To allow folks who so desire who have demonstrated the lifetime of love and commitment to get married, even if they are a same sex couple.”
Dibble said he doesn’t know if he has the votes to pass the measure in the Democratic-led Legislature, but Gov. Mark Dayton has pledged to sign the bill if it reaches him.
During his State of the State address in January, Dayton called on state lawmakers to pass marriage equality legislation this year.
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