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Age, religion factors in Arizona vote on marriage

PHOENIX – A voter-approved proposition to put Arizona’s ban on same-sex marriages in the state constitution enjoyed stronger support from older and religious voters than younger and nonreligious ones, but ethnicity didn’t appear to be as much of a factor.

Exit polling conducted for The Associated Press and television networks included how voters cast ballots on Proposition 102 on same-sex marriage, a referendum placed on the ballot by the Legislature.

The exit polling found that Protestants generally supported the measure but that Catholics were fairly evenly divided. Nonreligious voters were solidly against it.

Catholic bishops endorsed the Arizona proposal, and Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints leaders endorsed a similar measure on California’s ballot. There weren’t enough Mormons among the surveyed Arizona voters to provide a statistically valid sample on their stances.

Meanwhile, Proposition 102 had slight leads among whites and among Hispanics.

The youngest voters were split for and against, with support for Proposition 102 increasing among voters in older age groups. Voters age 65 or over were solidly for the amendment.

Younger voters could be less opposed to same-sex marriage than older voters because younger people “have had more exposure to gay and lesbian couples as more and more people have been out all of their lives,” said Jason Crockett, a University of Arizona sociology instructor. He also cited more inclusive programming in media outlets targeting young people.

Crockett said the apparent split among Catholics on the issue of a same-sex marriage ban could illustrate how some people of faith separate official church views from their personal beliefs on social issues.

With Catholics, that’s also been seen on such matters as divorce and contraception, Crockett said.

In other polling finds, support for Proposition 102 was stronger among rural voters than those living in either Maricopa County or a region that included Pima, Pinal and Santa Cruz counties.

And voters with more education and more income tended to be less supportive than those with less education and less income.

Approval of Proposition 102 came two years after Arizona voters rejected a broader proposal that was interpreted to also apply to marriage alternatives such as civil unions or even domestic partner benefits.

Supporters came back this year with a 20-word proposal: “Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage.”

In addition to Arizona, voters in California and Florida approved bans on Tuesday.

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