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Support for legal protections of gay couples grows in Wisconsin
Most people in a new survey still support the Wisconsin's amendment that bans same sex marriage. But the poll also shows most people think same sex couples should be granted civil rights.
The marriage amendment passed in 2006. It states "Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state."
The Wisconsin Public Radio/St. Norbert College Survey questioners used that language when they contacted 401 state residents, and asked if they favored or opposed the amendment.
Wendy Scattergood is an associate with the Strategic Research Institute at St. Norbert College. She says support for the amendment has held steady over the years. This year 51-percent of respondents favor it.
Still, she says more than three quarters--77%--of respondents said gay couples should have some legal protections regarding health care and family leave. Scattergood says people react to the term "marriage" and its spiritual implications.
"Because in a lot of ways what they're saying is the civil part of marriage which is sort of the legal aspects of it they're in favor as we said across the parties are in favor of those sorts of civil aspects of a marriage."
Scattergood says support for those protections is on the upswing.
"And that's actually increased. When we first asked that question in the spring of 2009 only 60-percent which is still a big majority, but 60-percent favored giving those decisions to same sex couples and now it's at 77%."
She says support for legal protections is strong across party lines. 90% of Democrats favor it, 65-percent of Republicans do...along with three quarters of those who identified themselves as independents.
Also, the WPR/St. Norbert College survey shows a slight majority of people don't think voter fraud is a serious problem.
The survey contacted 401 people in Wisconsin in late March and early April. One of its questions asked if voter fraud is a serious problem in the state.
Fraud was one of the reasons Republicans recently passed a photo i-d law which is now being challenged in court.
Forty two percent of respondents said it is a very or somewhat serious problem.
Scattergood says the survey also asked if voting should be more or less restrictive, or if the current system should stay the same. Fifty three percent said it should stay "as is."
"But 30-percent think that it should be more restrictive while 15-percent that it should be less restrictive."
Scattergood says there are partisan divides when it comes to voting. Two thirds of Democrats don't think any changes are needed.
"Republicans are more likely to think that it's a serious problem and also think that there should be more restrictions on it. Whereas for example 55-percent of Democrats think that voter fraud is not at all a serious problem."
A report released earlier this week by the Pew Charitable Trusts ranked Wisconsin in the nation's top three states for how it administered the 2012 elections.
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