As the Supreme Court considers the legality of gay marriage this week, the latest national polls show an increasing majority of Americans support same-sex unions. Arkansas, meanwhile, remains largely divided over the issue with a majority who say there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship.
Hendrix Political Science Professor Jay Barth says recent statewide polls have provided a window into how Arkansans’ views differ from the rest of the country. “What we’ve noticed in Arkansas public opinion is that there hasn’t been as much change. Arkansans were hesitant to support marriage equality as was shown in the 2004 constitutional amendment vote. And while there’s been some shift in a pro-marriage direction, there’s not been as much of a shift," says Barth.
Last year, the Arkansas Poll conducted by the U of A showed that 18 percent of those surveyed fully supported the rights of gay couples to legally marry.
“Fifty-five percent of Arkansans said there should be no legal recognition of a gay couple’s relationship. There’s been a little shift, but a majority has consistently been in that position since the question was first asked in 2005,” says Barth.
The 2004 constitutional amendment referendum barring same-sex marriages in the state received 75 percent approval by voters.