Some 59% of Tennessee voters agree that gays and lesbians should have the same rights under law as other Americans, according to a recent Zogby International poll commissioned by the Tennessee Equality Project Foundation.

The poll indicates that Tennessee voters track with national trends of growing acceptance for gays and lesbians. It also included questions about the proposed amendment to the Tennessee Constitution that voters will decide in November.

The amendment would define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. When asked whether they would support the amendment, 60% of respondents said yes, 33% said no, with another 6% undecided.

The results depart from other Southern states that have passed similar amendments. Voters in Georgia supported a marriage amendment by 76%, Arkansas by 75%, Kentucky by 74%, Mississippi by 86%, and Alabama by 81%.

The poll also found that 55% percent of those surveyed in Tennessee agree that they have concerns about changing the constitution on the issue of marriage.

“We agree with Governor Bredesen and the majority of voters in Tennessee that this amendment is ‘overkill,’ according to Randy Tarkington, campaign manager for the Vote No on 1 effort to defeat the amendment. “We are happy with these polling numbers as a starting point for our campaign because what they show is that the voters of Tennessee support fairness and they have serious misgivings about adding discrimination to our state’s constitution.”

With a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5%, the survey of 502 voters is broken down according to the following demographics:

110  West Tennessee
161  Middle Tennessee
231  East Tennessee

156  Democrats
206  Republicans
138  Independent/Minor parties
3       Libertarians

77    18-29 age group
203  30-49 age group
121  50-64 age group
82    65+ age group

428  White
61    African-American
5      Asian American
5      Other/Mixed
3      Did not answer

241  Male
261  Female

Survey Methodology: Tennessee Likely Voters, 6/12/06

This is a telephone survey of likely voters conducted by Zogby International. The target sample is 502 interviews with approximately 14 questions asked. Samples are randomly drawn from telephone cd’s of national listed sample. Zogby International surveys employ sampling strategies in which selection probabilities are proportional to population size within area codes and exchanges. As many as six calls are made to reach a sampled phone number. Cooperation rates are calculated using one of AAPOR’s approved methodologies [1] and are comparable to other professional public-opinion surveys conducted using similar sampling strategies. [2] Weighting by party, age, race, and gender is used to adjust for non-response. The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.

Zogby International’s sampling and weighting procedures also have been validated through its political polling: more than 95% of the firm’s polls have come within 1% of actual election-day outcomes.

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