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Survey Center: Little Support for Repeal of Gay Marriage; Support for Parental Notification

By Lori Wright, Media Relations
February 16, 2011

New Hampshire adults favor passage of a bill that would require minors to notify their parents before they could get an abortion. New Hampshire, including Republicans, is largely pro-choice. There is little support for repealing the recently passed law that legalized same-sex marriage in New Hampshire.

These findings are based on the latest WMUR Granite State Poll, conducted by the UNH Survey Center. Five hundred twenty (520) randomly selected New Hampshire adults were interviewed by telephone between Jan. 27 and Feb. 6, 2011. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 4.3 percent.

Lack of Support Gay Marriage Repeal
With the Republican takeover in November, there has been considerable interest in whether the New Hampshire Legislature would tackle some controversial social issues that it had addressed in recent years. Two of the thorniest are a 2009 law that legalized gay marriage in New Hampshire and a 2007 law that overturned an earlier statute that required parental notification before a minor could get an abortion.

There is strong opposition to a bill that would repeal same-sex marriage in New Hampshire – only 29 percent of New Hampshire adults support the repeal of the 2009 law that legalized same-sex marriage in New Hampshire (24 percent strongly support and 5 percent support somewhat), 51 percent strongly oppose repeal, 11 percent somewhat oppose repeal, and 9 percent are neutral or don’t know.

“Strong opponents of repealing same-sex marriage outnumber strong proponents by a factor of 2 to 1,” said Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center. “Politically, this is represents powerful resistance to changing the current law.”

In order to better assess the strength of support or opposition to repeal of New Hampshire’s gay marriage law, supporters of repealing gay marriage were asked if they would be upset if it were not repealed and opponents of repeal were asked if they would be upset if it were repealed. Again, opponents of repeal are far more attached to their position than are supporters of repeal – nearly one third of all New Hampshire adults say they would be very upset if the gay marriage law were repealed and 21 percent would be somewhat upset if it were repealed. Conversely, only 5 percent of New Hampshire adults would be very upset if gay marriage is not repealed and another 12 percent would be somewhat upset.

Support for Parental Notification
In 2003, the then Republican controlled legislature passed a law that required minors to notify at least one parent 48 hours before they could get an abortion. Because the law was challenged in the courts, it was never enforced. After they gained control of the Legislature in 2006, Democrats passed a law that reversed the earlier law. Now Republicans are seeking to pass a similar bill that would once again require minors to notify a parent before they could get an abortion and they have public support for this effort. Almost three in five New Hampshire adults (57 percent) favor parental notification by minors seeking an abortion, 34 percent oppose this law, 6 percent are neutral and 4 percent are unsure. Strong supporters of the law outnumber strong opponents by almost 2 to 1 – 39 percent strongly favor parental notification while 23 percent strongly oppose.

Support for the parental notification law breaks on party lines – 73 percent of Republicans favor parental notification compared with 54 percent of Independents and 36 percent of Democrats. However, parental consent is seen by many as not being a restriction on abortion, with 31 percent of New Hampshire adults who believe abortion should be legal in all circumstances also support parental consent legislation.

New Hampshire, as a whole, is a pro-choice state with 43 percent saying that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, 45 percent thinking it should be legal in limited circumstances, such as in cases of rape or incest or when a mother’s life is in danger, 9 percent do not think it should be legal in any circumstance, and 3 percent are unsure.

New Hampshire is significantly more pro-choice than the country as a whole. A Gallup poll last year found that 24 percent of all American believe abortion should be legal in any circumstance, 54 percent think it should be legal in limited circumstances, and 19 percent think it should be illegal in all circumstances.

For complete tabular results, visit http://www.unh.edu/survey-center/news/pdf/gsp2011_winter_issues020911.pdf

The UNH Survey Center has conducted survey research projects at the University of New Hampshire since 1976. The center has grown rapidly during the past 30 years and now conducts approximately 40 to 50 major survey projects each year. More information: http://www.unh.edu/survey-center/.


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