Sunday, July 31, 2011

Marriage Equality in New Zealand?

Research New Zealand did a poll of Kiwis asking them about their support of same-sex marriage there. Currently Civil Unions are allowed but marriage is restricted and regulated to opposite sex couples only. The most recent poll found that 60% of Kiwis said they were accepting of same-sex marriage, only 34% said they opposed the idea. Two percent felt there was no difference between marriage and civil unions and 4% were not sure what they thought.

The numbers showed that women, more than men, supported marriage equality, with 66% of all females supporting it where 54% of men supported marriage equality.

As all polls in the United States indicate as well, there is a clear and strong difference in support according to age. Kiwis between the ages of 18 and 34 support marriage equality 79% to 19%. Even among those between the ages of 35 and 54 support exceeds opposition by 61% to 32%. Only older Kiwis, over the age of 55 oppose marriage equality and even there they are close to being evenly split: 44% to 49%.

Kiwis often identify racially into two groups. Pakeha are Europeans or non-Maori citizens. The second group is the ethnic Maori and Pacific Islanders. Interestingly the poll showed higher support for same sex marriage among Maori residents than among Pakeha: 66% for Maori/Pacific and 61% for Pakeha. People who identify with other racial groups were also supportive: 49% to 36%. I would assume this is mainly Chinese, Indian and other Asian groups.

The poll also looked at support geographically. The highest support came from resident of South Island, the most rural of the two main islands. There 64% supported marriage equality to 30% who were opposed. On North Island the poll looked at support in upper North Island, versus the rest of the island. I am not able to find how they define these regions. The problem with not knowing their boundaries is that Auckland, which contains 25% of the population of New Zealand could be seen as being in upper North Island or Central North Island depending on the dividing line used. Lower and central North Island saw support at 62% and upper North Island saw support at 57%. Depending on where Auckland is located this may indicate that rural kiwis are more accepting of marriage equality than urban kiwis. But more information would be need to determine that.

Support for marriage equality increases with income, which is what I would expect. For those earning under NZ$40,000 support was at 59%; for those with income between that and $80,000, support rose to 60%; and for individuals earning more than $80,000 support was 61%.

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