INDIANAPOLIS | A clear majority of Hoosiers do not want the state's existing ban on gay marriage and a new prohibition on civil unions written into the Indiana Constitution, according to a new public opinion poll.
A majority of Hoosiers also said the state should repeal its longstanding ban on gay marriage and offer some form of legal recognition to same-sex couples, with 35 percent endorsing gay marriage and 38 percent supporting civil unions.
The Sept. 17-19 cellular and landline telephone survey of 800 registered voters by Bellweather Research found 64 percent oppose the pending marriage amendment and 36 percent support the proposal. The survey has a margin of error of plus- or minus-3.5 percent.
The survey found even 54 percent of self-identified "very conservative" voters are against changing the state Constitution to address marriage. Among Republicans generally, 57 percent oppose the amendment, as do two-thirds of Democrats and independents.
Twenty-eight percent said there should be no legal recognition or rights accorded to same-sex couples in Indiana.
The statewide poll was sponsored by Freedom Indiana, a bipartisan organization of large companies and citizen activists working to defeat the amendment. Bellweather Research is owned by Christine Matthews, who previous surveyed Hoosiers on behalf of Republican former Gov. Mitch Daniels.
Megan Robertson, the Portage native leading Freedom Indiana, said the poll shows the Republican legislative leaders pushing for the amendment are out of touch with their constituents.
"Hoosiers do not want our constitution amended, and we hope lawmakers will hear that message and make the right decision during the legislative session to either let this amendment die or vote it down," said Robertson, who has previously managed several Indiana Republican Congressional campaigns.
She said rewriting the constitution to remove protections for certain Hoosiers sends "the wrong message about our state."
"This is the opposite of Hoosier hospitality," Robertson said.
The three lawmakers leading the charge for the amendment — Republican Gov. Mike Pence; House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis; and Senate President David Long, R-Fort Wayne — were uncharacteristically quiet Tuesday about a policy each has championed for more than a decade.
Long refused to speak with reporters following the annual closed-door September meeting of Senate Republicans. He said in a statement that his caucus made no decisions about whether to continue pushing for the marriage amendment.
Pence spokeswoman Christy Denault said, "Sorry. We don't comment on polls."
Indiana law already limits marriage to opposite-gender couples. The amendment, which was previously approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly in 2011, would make that law extremely difficult to change — and takes the additional step of prohibiting all civil unions.
If a majority of lawmakers in both the House and Senate approve it again next year, the amendment will be on the Nov. 4, 2014, ballot for Hoosier voters to have the final say.