AJC poll: Georgia Republicans oppose gay marriage, support strict abortion laws

Eight years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country, a plurality of Georgia Republican voters surveyed in a recent poll said they oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

Most Georgia Republicans polled by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution also said they support strict abortion restrictions at the state and federal level and oppose establishing a pathway for unauthorized immigrants to become citizens.

While having strong opinions on social issues, GOP voters polled said they are more likely to support a Republican presidential candidate who runs on a platform of establishing “law and order” than a candidate whose campaign focuses on defeating “woke” issues.

The poll of 807 likely GOP voters was conducted by the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs from Aug. 16 to 23. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points.

More than half of Republican voters polled by the AJC also said they oppose sending additional money or military assistance to Ukraine in its war with Russia, a position a recent CNN poll suggested a majority of Americans hold.

In the poll, 48% of Republican voters told the AJC that they oppose allowing gay and lesbian people to marry. About 35% of those polled said they support same-sex marriage, and about 17% said they were undecided on the issue.

Support among Republican voters has grown slightly in the 10 years since the AJC last polled voters on the issue. In a 2013 poll, 32% of Republican voters said they supported gay marriage.

Greg Forrister, a Cedartown resident who is in the home inspection industry, said he has always opposed the idea of same-sex marriage.

“It clearly states in the Bible, God creates male and female,” the 58-year-old said. “It’s against God’s law for a man to have sex with another man and a woman to have sex with another woman.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2015 ruled that states had to recognize same-sex marriage, but a ruling from the high court last year that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed a national right to abortion, has made some gay rights advocates concerned that same-sex marriage could be targeted next.

Jeff Graham, executive director with the gay rights group Georgia Equality, said he found the poll results “troubling.”

“The freedom to marry has been something that was a hard-fought victory that we thought we had overcome,” he said. “I do think that this shows the dangers of some of the extremist views on LGBTQ individuals and families that we have been seeing over the last 12 months here in Georgia and around the country.

“So this rhetoric that is coming from the most extreme fringes of society are clearly beginning to have an impact.”

Dawn Nguyen, a 48-year-old DeKalb County resident polled by the AJC, said while she is a Baptist, she doesn’t oppose gay marriage.

“They do what they do,” she said. “That’s people’s personal choice. That’s not what I practice, but I’m not the final one to judge. ... I don’t live that lifestyle. And it is a lifestyle.”

But Nguyen, who owns a trucking company, said her Christian faith doesn’t allow her to support abortion. She said she supports Georgia’s abortion law — which makes the procedure illegal in most cases once a doctor can detect fetal cardiac activity, typically about six weeks into a pregnancy — but she did not want a national ban.

“There are cases where there’s rape, incest, a serious health problem for the baby and/or the mom,” she said, citing exceptions in Georgia’s abortion ban. “If it’s just, ‘sorry I slept with a guy, sorry didn’t have a condom, sorry I didn’t take a pill, so I’ve got to kill this thing,’ for me, I can’t stomach that.”

The AJC poll found that about 46% of Republican voters who were questioned said that abortion should be illegal in most cases, and nearly 19% said the procedure should be illegal in all instances. About 63% of respondents said they support Georgia’s abortion law, and nearly 63% said there should be a nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

A majority of Georgia Republicans polled, nearly 61%, said they oppose a law that creates a pathway to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants who are already in the country.

Dannis McGuire, a Franklin resident who retired from the airline industry, said unauthorized immigrants who are already in the country have broken the law.

“I’m for providing a pathway for future legal immigrants, but not the ones here now,” said McGuire, 80. “I think they ought to be rounded up and sent home.”