New Yorkers are split on whether to legalize same-sex marriage even as the state Legislature moves closer to the landmark action, the latest Quinnipiac poll shows.
The survey finds a 46-percent split on the issue among those with an opinion. In a 2004 poll, Quinnipiac found 55 percent of New Yorkers opposed same-sex marriage.
But the poll finds most New Yorkers -- 65 percent -- support civil unions that would provide most or all of the legal and property rights already given to married heterosexual couples.
"If proponents would settle for civil unions, the numbers indicate they'd win in a walk," Carroll said.
The research revealed several telling differences between demographics.
Black voters oppose gay marriage by a 57-35 percent margin, but whites showed slight support at 47-45.
Jews are way out ahead in support of same-sex marriage, 61-34, while Catholics oppose it 53-39, as do Protestants, 55-38. More than two thirds of those who attend at least weekly religious services oppose gay marriage. Voters who worship less frequently support it 56-36.
Women are in favor (49-42), but men are opposed (51-42). Democrats support the measure by a 59-34 gap, while their Republican counterparts oppose gay marriage by a margin of nearly 3 to 1.
"It's a complicated political issue, but not terribly complicated when you get into the various subgroups, where the divergence is dramatic," Carroll said. "It's an issue that apparently splits the state right down the middle, but doesn't split neatly."
The research also showed that the younger the voter, the more likely there was to be support of the measure. Survey participants aged 18-34 back same-sex marriage, 61-33. Voters 35-54 support it by a 48-44 margin, and voters 55 and older are opposed, 55-37.
"Young people are for this," Carroll said. "If the gay advocacy groups are patient, they're going to win."
Forty-six percent of New Yorkers believe homosexuals are born that way, and 63 percent reject the idea that same-sex marriage is a threat to traditional unions.
The poll released today comes two days after the Assembly approved the measure and sent it to the Senate.
Quinnipiac questioned 2,828 voters from May 5-11. The poll has a margin of error of fewer than 2 percentage points.