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Sounding Out Washington Voters Oppose Gay Marriages Poll Also Shows Many Against Banning Partial-Birth Abortions

Washington voters would not support a law that allowed people of the same sex to marry, nor do they want the state to outlaw a controversial abortion procedure.

The state’s gubernatorial candidates each come down on the wrong side of one of these difficult social issues, as far as the voters in a new scientific survey are concerned.

Only a fourth of the voters, surveyed last week by Mason-Dixon/ Political Media Research Inc., said they favor the state passing a law that would allow homosexuals to marry.

Fewer than three in 10 said they thought the state should outlaw partial-birth abortions, a procedure that Congress tried to ban earlier this year but President Clinton vetoed.

Neither result is surprising, said Brad Coker, who conducted the survey for The Spokesman-Review and KHQ-TV.

Even in Hawaii, the one state that is close to allowing same-sex marriages, most voters have said they oppose the law, Coker said.

“These are warning numbers for any politician,” he said. “This can be a wedge issue” that costs a candidate an election in a close race.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gary Locke has said he would sign a bill allowing same-sex marriages. Republican gubernatorial candidate Ellen Craswell said she strongly opposes such a law.

Abortion has always been a divisive issue, Coker said. “Most voters wish this would get out of politics.”

But on this issue, it is Craswell, who opposes abortion, who is swimming against the tide. Locke, who supports abortion rights, is in step with the larger plurality of the voters - about four in 10 in the survey.

Abortion is also an issue which is viewed differently in Idaho, a similar survey indicates. Half the Idaho voters asked the same question during the same period said they believe the state should outlaw partial-birth abortions.

The two surveys indicate there is not a significant difference between the way men and women regard the procedure in either state.

In Washington, a majority of men and women oppose outlawing the procedure by margins that are statistically the same. In Idaho, a majority of voters support such a ban.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Graphic: Outlawing abortion procedure