Sarah Peacock, of Louisville, Ky, puts a ring on Kristy Sturgill's, of Bardstown, Ky, finger alongside her daughter Lanie Peacock and Rev. Bojangles Blanchard during their wedding ceremony at Washington Park in Metropolis, Il. After being denied to apply for their marriage license at the Jefferson Co. Clerk's Office in Louisville, Ky, the couple drove over two hundred miles to Metropolis, Il, to get married. July 28, 2014. / Matt Herp, Special to the CJ
FRANKFORT, Ky. - Opposition to gay marriage continues to erode in Kentucky with only half of the state's voters favoring prohibitions on same-sex couples that were struck down in federal court this month.
Results from the latest Bluegrass Poll, released Tuesday, show 50 percent of registered voters in Kentucky oppose same-sex marriage, while 37 percent favor it and 12 percent remain unsure.
That's a drop from the 55 percent who said they opposed gay marriage in February and a sharp decline from the 72 percent that voted in favor of a ban in 2004 - when the state constitution was amended to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
"We've hit a bit of a threshold, and I think the tipping point is soon to follow," said Chris Hartman, director of the Fairness Campaign. "The opposition has been teetering on the edge of having a majority for a long time, and that ground is rapidly slipping out from under them."
But Martin Cothran, an analyst for the Family Foundation, which spearheaded the 2004 amendment, said the latest figures still show a "significant" level of support for maintaining the traditional definition of marriage.
"I think the movement is not going to continue at the same pace," he said. "I think what you are seeing now is a reshuffling of public opinion on this because people are sort of in the gray area and are not committed to one side or the other."
The poll was conducted by Survey USA for The Courier-Journal, WHAS-TV, The Lexington Herald-Leader and Lexington's WKYT-TV over landline and cellular telephones between July 18 and 23.
Only one question pertained to gay marriage, and it asked 714 registered voters whether they "favor or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry in Kentucky?" It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.
Respondents in eastern and western Kentucky were most opposed, while those in the Louisville region - which spans from Shelby County west to Breckenridge County and south to Green County - supported same-sex marriage 46 percent to 43 percent.
Voters between the ages of 18 and 49 were evenly split at 43 percent, but those over age 50 disapproved of gay marriage 57 percent to 32 percent.
Around 69 percent of Republicans were opposed while Democrats supported the change 48 percent to 41 percent. And 50 percent of both males and females said they opposed gay marriage, though 35 percent of males and 39 percent of females supported it.
Among those opposed was Bob Holdman, 74, a retired chemical engineer and former small business owner from Gilbertsville. He said that although he considers himself an accepting person, he doesn't want changes to marriage law.
"The definition of marriage is opposite sex, a male and female who join, and that's what it is," Holdman said. "I think it's wrong to call it marriage."
But Mary Ellen Coker, 89, a retired schoolteacher from Campbellsville, said she was converted to support gay marriage under the persuasion of her husband, who was a minister.
"If they are born gay, then they had nothing to do with it and we should not ostracize them," she said. "If they were born that way, I'm not going to criticize them."
Sarah Peacock, who married her partner, Kristy Sturgill, in Metropolis, Ill., on Monday after being denied a marriage license in Jefferson County, said 50 percent is still a high number, "but obviously we are moving in the right direction."
Peacock said she has noticed changes in attitudes over the past decade in her interactions with people, and that public opinions have shifted as more people have come out.
"It's your brother and your sister, or your uncle or your cousin," she said. "It's relatable that people are stepping out and being proud of who they are."
But Kentucky's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage remains embattled in the courts.
This month Senior U.S. District Court Judge John G. Heyburn II struck down the ban, ruling it violates the constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law and that it lacks "any conceivable legitimate purpose."
The Beshear administration has appealed, and Gov. Steve Beshear says that Kentucky needs to get a final answer on the issue. But his office did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.
Copyright 2015 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Poll: Opposition to gay marriage waning in Ky.