Poll finds Hoosiers split on same sex marriage

Opponents of the marriage amendment are distributing this bumper sticker to like-minded Hoosiers.

Opponents of a proposal to use the Indiana Constitution to ban same-sex marriage released a poll Tuesday that shows two-thirds of Hoosiers are uncomfortable with the proposal as well - although fewer say they would actually vote against it.

By a 64 percent to 34 percent margin, respondents said they oppose amending the constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and women, according to the poll released by Freedom Indiana, a bipartisan coalition of business and community leaders fighting the proposal.

The survey of 800 registered voters also found that 46 percent of respondents said they would vote against the amendment, while 43 percent said they would vote for it. That spread falls within the poll's margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

"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 Megan Robertson, campaign manager for Freedom Indiana.

"We're working every day to reach out across the state and let folks know that this amendment will rewrite our constitution to remove protections for certain Hoosiers and send the wrong message about our state," she said. "This is the opposite of Hoosier hospitality."

The poll was conducted by Bellwether Research, which does work for Republican candidates - including former Gov. Mitch Daniels - and independent organizations. Last year, Bellwether collaborated on a poll for the Howey Political Report that found similar results.

Freedom Indiana officials said they planned to brief legislative leaders on the results. On Tuesday, Republicans who control the Senate met privately to discuss the constitutional amendment and other issues.

Later, Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said "no final decisions were ultimately made" about how to move forward with any legislation.

The GOP-controlled Indiana General Assembly approved the proposed constitutional measure easily in 2011. But to amend the state constitution, the proposal must pass two separately-elected legislatures. That means lawmakers must pass it next for it to appear on the 2014 election ballot for possible ratification by voters.

Lawmakers could have acted on the amendment earlier this year, but Long and House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, decided to wait until next year to let the U.S. Supreme Court rule.

That ruling - released in June - struck down a federal law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman but left it up to each state to make its own decision regarding the definition of a legal marriage. That means the proposed amendment in Indiana can move forward.

"By tradition our caucuses are private and we'll keep our conversation confidential out of respect to our members," Long said in a statement. "But we had a great discussion and I look forward to a productive session for all Hoosiers."

The Freedom Indiana poll also found that nearly three-quarters of respondents support some legal recognition or rights for same-sex couples. And it found Hoosiers have questions about the second part of the proposed constitutional amendment, which bans rights similar to marriage for gay and lesbian couples.