Support for same-sex marriage has increased over the past 18 months as debate on the issue has intensified, according to the latest Irish Times /Ipsos MRBI poll.
Asked how they plan to vote in the referendum on the issue, promised by the Government next year, 67 per cent said they would vote Yes, 21 per cent No and 12 per cent were undecided. The corresponding figures in an Irish Times poll in November 2012 were 53 per cent Yes, 30 per cent No, and 17 per cent undecided.
When the undecided are excluded from the current poll, the Yes figure is 76 per cent with 24 per cent No, compared to a figure of 64 per cent Yes and 36 per cent No in November 2012. The poll also shows voters are of the view that a traditional family of a father and mother is best suited to bringing up children by comparison with any other combination.
The survey was undertaken on Tuesday and Wednesday of last week among a representative sample of 1,000 voters aged 18 and over, in face-to-face interviews at 100 sampling points in all constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.
There are wide differences in attitudes towards same-sex marriage across the different age groups and social classes. Younger voters are much more likely to support same-sex marriage than older people with support for a Yes vote declining steadily with age. Among the 18 to 24 age group, 80 per cent said they would vote in favour of same-sex marriage, 13 per cent said they would vote No and 7 per cent were undecided.
This compares to 44 per cent of those aged 65 and over who would vote Yes, with 40 per cent saying they would vote No and 16 per cent undecided.
Women were significantly more in favour of a change than men, with 73 per cent of women saying they will vote Yes compared to 61 per cent of men.
There is also some variation in class with 71 per cent of the best-off AB voters saying they will vote Yes compared to 62 per cent of the poorest DE group and just 40 per cent of farmers.
There are differences too across the party political divide with Labour voters the most enthusiastic for change with 80 per cent support followed by Independent/Other voters on 74 per cent. Among Fine Gael voters the Yes support is 69 per cent, 68 per cent among Sinn Féin voters and it drops to 55 per cent among Fianna Fáil supporters.
The high level of Labour support tallies with party leader Eamon Gilmore’s declaration that same-sex marriage is the most important civil rights issue of the age.