Poll respondents areBy Mike Yuen
opposed to legalizing gay marriages
by a more than 2-to-1 ratio
With balloting less than three months away, Hawaii voters remain overwhelmingly opposed to legalizing same-sex marriage.
They reject same-gender unions by more than a 2-1/2-to-1 margin, according to the latest Star-Bulletin/NBC Hawaii News 8 Poll. Sixty-three percent oppose gay marriages, while 24 percent favored them. Thirteen percent are undecided.
The latest results, while reflecting a seven-point drop in the disapproval of gay unions from last year, still illustrates the state's firm rejection of same-sex marriage since 1991, when the Star-Bulletin first asked registered voters their feelings about the issue.
It was in May 1991 that three homosexual couples sued the state for the right to marry.
Legislators opposed to same-sex marriage have placed the issue on the Nov. 3 ballot, attempting to head off a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-gender marriage. The matter is on appeal to the high court after state Circuit Judge Kevin Chang ruled in 1996 that the state had to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.
Church-goers objectThe most recent survey found that people who regularly attend church overwhelmingly disapprove of same-sex marriage, 74 percent to 18 percent. Even the majority of those who don't worship regularly frown on same-gender marriage, 53 percent to 29 percent.
Sixty-four percent of men and 61 percent of women disapprove of gay marriages, the latest poll shows. Approval comes from 25 percent of men and 24 percent of women.
The survey was conducted by Mason-Dixon Political/Media Research Inc. of Columbia, Md., which interviewed 417 registered voters by telephone Aug. 4-7. The margin of error is plus or minus 5 percentage points.
David Smith of the Human Rights Campaign of Washington, D.C., the nation's largest gay-rights organization that has established a local political action committee to fight the proposed limitation on marriage, said he was not surprised by the poll results.
If respondents were read the question exactly as it appears on the ballot, they would reject the measure because it would mean giving lawmakers the power to overturn the Supreme Court and limit constitutional rights, insisted Smith, Human Rights Campaign senior strategist.
The ballot measure asks: "Shall the Constitution of the state of Hawaii be amended to specify that the Legislature shall have the power to reserve marriage to opposite-sex couples?"
Smith said the latest poll numbers would be similar if voters were asked 30 or 40 years ago whether interracial marriages should be legal or illegal. "But the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the Constitution allows people to marry who they chose in terms of race," Smith said.
The Rev. Marc Alexander, a leading foe of same-sex marriage and executive director of the Hawaii Catholic Conference, public policy arm of the Catholic Diocese in the isles, finds the poll results "gratifying."
"I think those figures are solid. Even with the push to get same-sex marriage, it hasn't made a significant dent," Alexander said.
'Taught from childhood'Diane Ho Kurtz, co-chairwoman of Save Traditional Marriage, said the Hawaii Constitution, a document written by and for the people, was never intended to legalize same-sex marriage and should not be used "to advance ideological agendas by a small minority."
One poll respondent, retired nurse Frances Chun Wonderly, 67, of McCully said: "I disapprove of same-sex marriage. God made the different sexes so marriage could be between one man and one woman. Socially, we're taught from childhood it's for a man and a woman."
Another poll respondent was 39-year-old John Kadota, who whose parents were among the 120,000 Japanese-Americans interned during World War II.
He approves of same-sex marriage and will be voting to defeat the measure limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.
"If you experience prejudice and discrimination, it's less likely you would want do it to somebody else," said Kadota, a Nanakuli Elementary School teacher who was born and raised in Southern California.
Researcher-investigator Judith Fitzgerald, 51, of Kailua also has no qualms with gay marriage and will be voting against the proposed constitutional amendment.
Homosexuality, Fitzgerald believes, is "nature-driven" and is not a learned behavior.
"Why should we deny a segment of the population a right that the rest of us have?" asked Fitzgerald.
In five months, Hawaii voters have reversed themselves on whether a constitutional convention should be held.
Poll: Voters change
stance on con con
Now, 48 percent are opposed to the convention to consider changes to the Hawaii Constitution, while 33 percent are in favor, according to the latest Honolulu Star-Bulletin/NBC Hawaii News 8 Poll. Nineteen percent are undecided.
In March, the statewide survey found that 48 percent were in favor, 32 percent were opposed and 20 percent had not made up their minds.
Based on interviews with several poll respondents, a primary concern with convening a con con is cost. The League of Women Voters has estimated that it could carry a price tag of $12 million.
Many opponents of same-sex marriage are in favor of having a constitutional convention.
Union leaders and Hawaiian activists are generally opposed, fearing a constitutional convention would be used to roll back public workers' benefits and abolish the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
According to the latest poll, women were more opposed to a constitutional convention than men, 53.1 percent to 43.1 percent.
Support for a convention came from 38.7 percent of the men and 27.7 percent of the women.