LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - There are two things Kentucky voters are clear about. The majority approve of the way Gov. Steve Beshear has been doing his job and they oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry.
A new Bluegrass Poll – conducted for WKYT-TV, the Lexington Herald-Leader, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and WHAS-TV – found 54 percent of voters approve of the way the two-term Democratic governor has handled his job while 34 percent disapprove.
“Despite a tough economy, Beshear remains popular through a combination of personal likability and generally moderate stands on issues,” said WKYT political editor Bill Bryant.
“He almost seems to have Teflon coating,” said The Herald-Leader political writer Sam Youngman when asked about the governor’s strong approval rating. “He is the most popular politician in the state right now, despite the controversy of President Obama's health care law that Governor Beshear has implemented here in the state. He has done so with a great deal of success. He has been held as a national model for how these things should be implemented, and it seems to be translating here in Kentucky.”
By a 5:3 margin, voters surveyed in the Bluegrass Poll said they oppose allowing same sex marriages in Kentucky.
“Over time, there is clear movement on this issue but the majority of Kentuckians remain opposed to same sex marriages,” said Bryant.
In 2004, Kentucky voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman. At that time, a Bluegrass Poll found 70 percent of Kentuckians favored the ban.
While the majority of Kentuckians still oppose same sex marriage, the percentage has dropped over the past decade from 70 to 55 percent.
“Kentuckians are still overwhelmingly opposed to the idea,” Youngman said. “But there has been some movement away from it. So a lot more of the country might be accepting of gay marriage as an issue. Kentucky isn't there yet, but it's getting there.”
In January, a federal judge in Louisville started weighing the fate of Kentucky's ban as similar laws around the country have been overturned.
Two cases brought to force the state to recognize same sex marriages have been fully briefed and submitted to U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II. Among the filings were decisions by federal judges in Oklahoma and Utah striking down laws in those states.
Heyburn isn't bound by decisions in other federal districts. Attorneys for the two couples suing are hoping those rulings will come into play.
Judges in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Ohio and Utah have all ruled in favor of same-sex marriage. Gay marriages in Utah have been put on hold pending a decision from the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
For the poll, SurveyUSA interviewed 1,200 adults with home phones and cell phones between January 30 and Tuesday. Of the adults, 1,082 were registered to vote in the state with 404 being registered Republicans eligible to vote in the May Republican primary. Primary questions asked only of Republicans. Other questions were asked of all registered voters.