Louisiana residents are slowly warming up to the ideas of both same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization, but the majority still opposes both proposals, according to the most recent chapter of the 2015 Louisiana Survey, released Tuesday.
While the growth in acceptance hasn’t been Earth-shattering — Louisiana still lags significantly behind national rates — younger adults stood out as the most favorable toward the two social issues.
Michael Henderson, the lead LSU researcher on this year’s survey, said one of the key takeaways is that Louisiana appears to be following the nation toward increasing acceptance of same-sex marriage and marijuana legalization, but the state is creeping there at a much slower pace.
“To me that’s the big standout,” Henderson said. “It certainly suggests that, over time, we might see a flip.”
LSU’s Public Policy Research Lab polled 980 adults from across the state via landline and cellphones for the survey. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percent.
About 51 percent of those surveyed said they oppose same-sex marriage, while 42 percent favor it. That’s a shift from 39 percent who supported and 56 percent who opposed in the 2013 survey.
About 52 percent of respondents in the 2015 survey said they oppose the legalization of marijuana for personal use, while 45 percent support it. In 2013, those figures were 56 percent against the idea and 42 percent in support.
Views on each can vary vastly based on where someone lives in the state.
More than 58 percent of respondents in the New Orleans area, for example, said they support same-sex marriage, while 35 percent oppose.
On the flip side, about 24 percent of Northwest Louisiana respondents favor same-sex marriage, while nearly 70 percent oppose.
On the topic of marijuana, more than 70 percent of residents in northeast Louisiana oppose legalization for personal use, while 28 percent support it.
Meanwhile, about 57 percent of southwest Louisiana favors legalization to 41 percent who oppose it.
The group of respondents ranging from 18 to 29 years old was the only age range of which a majority supported recognition of same-sex marriages, at 59 percent, as well as marijuana legalization for personal use, at 68 percent.
Louisiana voters in 2004 adopted a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and the recognition of same-sex marriages that take place in other states. Lawsuits that threaten to upend that ban are pending on the state and federal level, and the U.S. Supreme Court could weigh in on the issue by June.
There has been little movement on the state level to change laws regarding same-sex marriage or marijuana legalization.
Henderson noted that the survey is representative of all adults in the state — not just registered voters. Voters here tend to be older and more conservative, he added.
“That’s going to matter for elected leaders,” Henderson said. “Will that still be the case in 10 years? We don’t know.”