BY ANDREW DAVIS
At a press conference June 21, Equality Illinois unveiled the results of a groundbreaking statewide poll that measured responses to a variety of GLBT-related issues —and, for the community, the news was very good. Pollsters asked people questions on 10 topics, ranging from civil unions to adoptions. The breakdown is as follows:
Changing the Constitution to Ban Gay Marriage:
— Changing the U.S. Constitution: 23 percent—yes; 70 percent—no
— Changing the state constitution: 27 percent—yes; 67 percent—no
( Changing either constitution is opposed by every region of the state, every age group, and Democrats, Independents and Republicans. )
Civil Unions and Marriage:
— Gay marriage: 38 percent—support; 49 percent—oppose
— Civil unions: 53 percent—support; 36 percent—oppose
— Hospital visitation: 77 percent—support; 17 percent—oppose
— Inheritance rights: 61 percent—support; 30 percent—oppose
— Gov't employee partner benefits: 56 percent—yes; 35 percent—no
— Joint tax returns: 55 percent—support; 38 percent—oppose
— Pension/Social Security benefits: 54 percent—yes; 39 percent—no
— Adoption rights: 48 percent—support; 44 percent—oppose
In a statement, Equality Illinois President Mike McHale said that he thought that 'Abraham Lincoln would have been proud of his home state, because this survey reflects a strong showing of fairness and equality by Illinois voters toward their gay and lesbian neighbors.'
Although the overall results were favorable to the GLBT community, numbers vary quite significantly in some areas. For example, while 79 percent of Chicagoans support inheritance rights, the number is only 37 percent in southern Illinois—underscoring the perception that Chicago is the state's bastion of liberalism. Also, regarding the same issue, 90 percent of those aged 18-25 are supportive; for those 65 and older, the number is 56 percent.
According to an Equality Illinois release, voters were also asked if they had any friends or family members who are gay. Fifty-six percent of respondents say they do. Support among those voters increased by an average of 24 percent for GLBT-related topics.
During the question-and-answer session, Rick Garcia, political director of Equality Illinois, stated that the highest priority lies with 'where we have the [ most ] strength, where Illinoisans oppose a constitutional ban [ regarding ] same-sex marriage.'
The 600-sample survey was conducted by the Glengariff Group, Inc., of Chicago. Richard Czuba, president of the market research company, told Windy City Times that the poll will be issued every year, with questions possibly changing depending on developments.
Garcia hosted the press conference. Among those in attendance were John Larson of PFLAG, Vernita Gray of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office and Greg Harris of Ald. Mary Ann Smith's office.