GLBT community in confusion over marriage amendment

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An “Out & About Newspaper” reader poll shows that more than 12 percent of those polled indicated they would vote “yes” on the marriage amendment in the November general election.

That’s 12 percent out of a pool of 96.28 percent of “O&AN” readers who identified as GLBT. Only 3.72 percent of the readers polled said they were “straight.”

The survey was conducted from August 4 to August 18 and was available on the “Out & About Newspaper” Web site. 269 readers responded to the survey.

While the survey results cannot be considered entirely scientific (it was an informal pole only), they do point to a potential problem that has plagued supporters of the Vote No on 1 Campaign – confusion among potential voters on what the amendment means.

“To vote ‘yes’ on the marriage amendment means you are voting against marriage equality,” explained Christopher Sanders, president of the Tennessee Equality Project. “Your survey results show what we already know. It’s a confusing issue and we have quite a bit of education to do in the GLBT community as well as the mainstream community.”

Some 87.73 percent of those who responded said they would vote no on the marriage amendment.

Some readers who responded to the poll did email in to say they felt more explanation should have been added to the polling questions on the marriage amendment, because they felt they didn’t know enough about the issue to properly answer the question.

“It mirrors what we’re seeing in the GLBT community,” Sanders said. “We were doing some telephone canvassing and talked to a couple in a county adjacent to Davidson County. The couple said the marriage amendment didn’t affect them because they didn’t live in Davidson County. We were happy to educate them that this is a state-wide issue and will affect every member of Tennessee’s GLBT community.”

Education efforts will be ramped up in the upcoming months Sanders said.

“We can’t stress enough to the Tennessee GLBT community to simply vote ‘no’ on the amendment,” he said. “The actual ballot will have the legal language passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and it will be long and confusing. We’re asking our community to just vote ‘no’.”

By voting “no” Sanders said you would be supporting marriage equality.

Sanders did note one positive result of the survey – 93.31 percent of “O&AN” readers polled said they planned to vote in the November election.

“That’s good news,” he said. “Voter turnout will be very important.”

More than 60 percent of the readers who responded are between the ages of 32 to 50. Only 6.69 percent were readers in the younger age bracket – ages 18 to 24 – a group that TEP thinks will be very important in targeting to vote in the election.

“The youth vote will be very important to us in November,” Sanders said. “Our polling indicates that the youth are more likely to support marriage equality. Our challenge is to get them registered to vote and get them to actually go vote.”