A new statewide poll commissioned by a gay-rights organization shows nearly two-thirds of Illinois residents support proposed state legislation barring discrimination against gays, Copley News Service reported. Moreover, the same poll shows Democratic and Republican support for the proposal at nearly identical levels, just weeks before the General Assembly may take action on the measure.
'There is this talk about the country moving right, with the gay-rights issue part of the focus,' said Rick Garcia, executive director of Equality Illinois. 'And here we have a poll way after the election, and it shows overwhelming support for gay rights.'
Naturally, the head of a conservative organization questioned the legitimacy of the poll. 'They chose leading questions to produce the results they want to get this legislation passed,' said Peter LaBarbera, executive director of the Illinois Family Institute. 'Homosexuality is a changeable behavior— it's not a civil-rights issue like race.'
The poll asks only two questions regarding gay rights, with the remaining four focusing on county of residence, political affiliation, age, and gender. The poll was conducted by the Chicago-based Glengariff Group, which is a marketing firm and advertising agency established in 1998. It lists among its clients General Motors Corp. and Northwestern University.
The company surveyed 600 registered Illinois voters Dec. 13 -14. Surveyors contacted residents by random telephone dialing in the following five regions: Cook County, the collar or suburban counties, west/northwest Illinois, central Illinois, and southern Illinois. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. Percentages may not total 100 because of rounding.
Sixty-three percent of respondents said they supported Senate Bill 3186, 'which would make it illegal to fire an individual from their job or deny them housing because they are gay,' the poll states. Another 3 percent said they lean in support of the bill. Sixteen percent oppose SB3186, and 1 percent lean in opposition of the bill. Fourteen percent did not know while 2 percent refused to answer.
SB3186 would amend the Illinois Human Rights Act to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation in most transactions involving employment, housing, public accommodations or credit. The act already bans those types of discrimination based on factors such as race, religion, gender, age, marital status or handicap.
Seventy-seven percent of Democratic poll respondents said they support SB3186, while 71 percent of Republicans support it and 58 percent of independents support it. 'There's very strong Republican support, and conventional wisdom says they don't support gay rights,' Garcia said.
All five regions supported the legislation, ranging from 73 percent approval in Cook County to 59 percent in southern Illinois.