The Chatter: Opposition to gay marriage, support for local-option sales tax grow, according to Bluegrass Poll

03/13/2015 12:10 PM

As the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider the state’s constitutional ban against same-sex marriage this summer, Kentuckians remain staunchly against allowing gay and lesbian wedlock, according to the results of the latest Bluegrass Poll released Thursday.

The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for The Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV, Lexington Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV, contacted 1,917 registered voters and found 57 percent oppose allowing same-sex couples to wed compared to 33 percent who back the issue. Ten percent were unsure, and the polls has a 2.3 percent margin of error.

Martin Cothran, senior policy analyst for The Family Foundation of Kentucky, told The Courier-Journal that the results show residents are “getting tired of the increasingly tolerant rhetoric of same-sex marriage supporters who want to portray them as bigoted” and “sticking to their guns on traditional marriage in the face of intense propaganda from Hollywood and the press.”

But Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign, said in the report that opposition growth may be tied to fears that the Supreme Court is prepared to strike down same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky and elsewhere.

“Opponents are grasping for ground as it is removed under them,” Hartman told the newspaper.

Respondents also showed broad support for local-option sales taxes, an initiative that has stalled in the Senate amid confusion and concerns with the proposed constitutional amendment’s enabling legislation.

The Bluegrass Poll found 63 percent of respondents supported the proposal, pushed this session as House Bill 1, while 23 percent stood in opposition and 14 percent were unsure. The survey has a 2.2 percent margin of error.

HB 1 would allow local governments to levy up to a 1 percent sales tax to finance specific projects upon voter approval.

Senate President Robert Stivers told the Herald-Leader he didn’t know whether the survey results would influence senators’ views on the issue in this year’s session’s final two days.

Stivers, R-Manchester, told reporters Wednesday that the bill’s enabling legislation, House Bill 344, has raised more questions than answers in the final days of this year’s 30-day session.

Once groups like industrial electric consumers sought relief from the tax, others like the Thoroughbred industry formed a growing chorus of carve-out requests, he said.

“So the support started waning for that, that was one reason,” Stivers said. “Two, some of the support I think out in the state started waning because the moneys that were promised to them were no longer going to be there. So you started to see this waning support of the idea plus there are individuals who were naturally opposed.”

The initiative, backed by Gov. Steve Beshear, industry groups and the mayors of Kentucky’s two largest cities, will likely resurface in 2016, when the constitutional amendment would be put to voters during the general election, if the legislature fails to approve HB 1.

The board of Local Investments for Transformation Kentucky, in a collective statement, sought to pressure the Senate into considering HB 1 this year.

“Despite yet another statewide poll demonstrating that a strong and growing majority of Kentuckians want more local control over the growth and development of their communities, the State Senate has refused to debate — even for one minute — House Bill 1, better known as Local Investments for Transformation (LIFT) Kentucky,” the LIFT board said.

“… The Kentucky State Senate has chosen to ignore voter voices, and opted instead to maintain the Frankfort status quo.”

Kevin Wheatley

Kevin Wheatley is a reporter for Pure Politics. He joined cn|2 in September 2014 after five years at The State Journal in Frankfort, where he covered Kentucky government and politics. You can reach him at kevin.wheatley@charter.com or 502-792-1135 and follow him on Twitter at @KWheatley_cn2.

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