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Individual states should decide, Pa. poll suggests

Monday, March 22, 2004

State voters remain conservative when it comes to handling social issues.
HARRISBURG (AP) -- Pennsylvania voters oppose gay marriage by a 2-to-1 margin, and voters prefer that states make their own laws on same-sex marriage rather than have the U.S. Constitution amended, according to a poll released Thursday.
Sixty-three percent of voters said they would not support a law allowing same-sex couples to marry, 31 percent favored such a law and 6 percent were undecided in the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute survey. Civil unions got more support, with 41 percent supporting them.
Fifty percent of respondents said states should take the lead in regulating gay marriage, and 38 percent preferred a constitutional amendment.
The institute's assistant director, Clay F. Richards, said the findings fit other polls that reflect generally conservative values on social issues among state voters.
An earlier Quinnipiac poll in Pennsylvania showed 58 percent believed homosexuality was morally wrong.
"People tend to think of [Pennsylvania] as being more liberal, because there's a major city that people more normally think of as having a liberal record, but the Philadelphia vote does not sway the state," Richards said.
Forty-two percent of voters in the survey said same-sex marriage was not an important factor in how they will vote in the presidential election, but 14 percent said it was extremely important and 43 percent said it was very important or somewhat important.
In the U.S. Senate race, the poll showed 36 percent favored the re-election of incumbent Sen. Arlen Specter and 44 percent wanted to replace him.
Specter registered a 49 percent approval rate -- 54 percent among Republicans and 46 percent among Democrats.
Support was considerably more polarized for the state's other Republican senator, Rick Santorum. His job approval rating was 71 percent among Republicans, but 33 percent among Democrats.
Not formed opinion
Sixty-six percent said they had not formed an opinion of Specter's primary challenger, U.S. Rep. Pat Toomey.
The institute surveyed 1,022 registered Pennsylvania voters by telephone between March 9 and 15. The sampling error margin for the survey is plus or minus three percentage points.