Republican and evangelical opposition to same-sex marriage has plummeted in Illinois, according to a new poll. Southern Illinois University’s Paul Simon Institute of Public Policy found that 54.9 percent of registered Illinois voters support full marriage rights for same-sex couples, the third straight poll showing majority support. But the latest poll also shows 67.8 percent of Republicans favor either civil unions or full marriage equality. Charles Leonard, a professor at the institute, says this rapid shift in opinion hasn’t been seen on other social issues, like abortion.
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“Those numbers change very little, if at all. Just margin for error bounces over the years,” Leonard said. “So this is an extraordinary change, and it comes largely from Republican acceptance.”
In a 2009 poll, only 10 percent of Republicans favored full marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Opposition is still greater among evangelical voters, though it too has declined. 49.1 percent favor either full marriage equality or civil unions. 45.7 percent still oppose any legal recognition of same-sex marriage, down from 70.9 percent in 2009.
Geographically, Chicago is still more supportive of same-sex marriage, with 66.5 percent supporting full marriage rights. Downstate support is close to half, 46 percent, and continues the region’s upward trend of support. In 2013, only 27.8 percent of Downstate residents supported full marriage rights.