PHOENIX - More than half of Arizonans polled in a new statewide survey said they now favor allowing gay couples to marry.
The poll conducted last month by Behavior Research Center found 55 percent of the 700 adult heads of household questioned favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed. Another 35 percent were opposed with the balance unsure.
Pollster Jim Haynes said Tuesday that he found support across most groups, including a small plurality of those 55 and older. Only those who identified themselves as conservatives, Republicans or non-Latino minorities were clearly opposed.
Whether the seeming shift in public opinion moves Arizona any closer to joining the 12 states that have already approved gay marriage is unclear.
Just 435 of the 700 respondents were registered voters.
Beyond that, Haynes said, the results of any ballot measure depend heavily on who turns out, "how it's presented on the ballot and what kind of campaign preceded the vote."
And Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, said the results are "unreliable," in part because there has been a "relentless barrage of media articles for the last three months promoting same-sex marriage," which she said affects what people here think.
Herrod's organization spearheaded the successful 2008 Arizona ballot measure constitutionally defining marriage as solely between one man and one woman.
She said coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court arguments in March on two cases resulted in numerous articles explaining why proponents say gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. "In my view, there hasn't been a strong presence in the media about why marriage matters and why marriage should be between one man and one woman," Herrod said.
Haynes, the pollster, said, "I think clearly it's an issue where people's opinions are changing. They're morphing over time and, at this stage of the game, at least overall, you have about a 20-point margin in favor."
The survey has a margin of error of 3.8 percent.
Do you favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry?
Group Favor Oppose Unsure
Statewide 55% 35% 10%
Latinos 75% 20% 5%
Caucasians 54% 35% 11%
Non-Latino minorities 36% 58% 6%
Democrats 70% 22% 8%
Independents 64% 25% 11%
Republicans 36% 53% 11%
Liberals 67% 28% 5%
Conservatives 41% 51% 8%
Under 35 67% 6% 7%
35 to 54 54% 39% 7%
55 plus 46% 40% 14%
Women 60% 33% 7%
Men 50% 37% 13%
Source: Behavior Research Center