Contact: Joe King, Office of Public Affairs
February 17, 2005
Two-thirds of Illinois favors rights for same-sex couples
DeKALB, IL – While about one-third of Illinois
residents may welcome President Bush's recent recommitment to
a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, the remaining
two-thirds are open to some sort of official recognition of same-sex
According to the 2005 Illinois Policy Survey, conducted
by Northern Illinois University , 31 percent of those surveyed
supported giving gays and lesbians the right to marry, while
34 percent supported the concept of civil unions. The remaining
29 percent opposed any legal recognition of homosexual couples.
“While much of the media attention focuses on those
calling to ban gay marriage, these results are pretty typical
of what nationwide polls are finding. Most Americans favor some
sort of formal recognition of gay and lesbian couples,” said
Barbara Burrell, associate director of the NIU Public Opinion
Laboratory which conducted the survey in November and December
of last year. The survey, now in its 21 st year, is a joint effort
of the NIU's Center for Governmental Studies and the Public Opinion
Laboratory. It was comprised of responses from 1,309 adults across
Illinois and has a confidence interval of +/- 3 percent.
The level of support for legal recognition of gay
couples varied somewhat by across the state, but dropped below
50 percent in only two of six regions -- southern Illinois at
44 percent and northern Illinois (exclusive of Chicago, its suburbs
and the collar counties) at 47 percent.
Other demographics seemed to play a larger role,
particularly age. Legal recognition was supported by 76 percent
of those age 24 or younger, but only 48 percent of those over
the age of 65. Only 45 percent of black and 53 percent of Asian
respondents favored legal recognition, as compared to 67 percent
of respondents who identified themselves as white, and 70 percent
Political allegiance was also a major differentiating
factor: 76 percent of those who voted for John Kerry favored
some sort of legal recognition for gays, versus 51 percent of
those who voted for George Bush.
“The most interesting thing about those numbers
is that a majority of Bush supporters, albeit barely so, seem
to favor some sort of legal recognition of gay unions,” said
Michael Peddle, a professor of public administration at NIU who
directed the survey along with Burrell “It's an indication that
the post election analysis that ‘values' carried the day for
Bush in the election was off the mark.”
According to Peddle, anecdotal information indicates
that there is also a great deal of confusion over exactly what
rights marriage or civil unions might provide for gay couples.
“There appears to be great ambiguity and difference
of opinion as to the actual differences between gay marriage
and civil union recognition,” Peddle said. “Many people who support
the same set of rights for gay /lesbian couples in some cases
were calling those rights marriage rights while other persons
attribute those rights to civil unions.”
A complete copy of the 2005 Report on the Illinois Policy Survey
can be found online at http://www.niu.edu/PubAffairs/presskits/ips2005/index.html .
That site also includes an explanation of the survey methodology
and sampling error, as well as news releases related to other
topics in the report.