55% of Guamanians say they would like to see same-sex marriage legalized in Guam, a new poll by the University of Guam has revealed.
Students from the university’s Public Administration Department working under Professor Ron McNinch surveyed close to 200 of the island’s 160,000 residents, with half that sample male and half female, and half under 40 and half over 40.
Only 29% of those sampled said they opposed same-sex marriage while 16% said they had no opinion on the issue.
The poll was conducted anonymously to ensure the most honest responses.
Professor McNinch told the Pacific News Center he believed Guamanians supported same-sex marriage because its tight-knit community meant that everybody knew someone who was LGBTI.
‘Almost everybody you talk to on Guam has an uncle or an aunt or a cousin or a sister or brother who is gay, and so this is a readily understandable sort of issue,’ McNinch said.
‘One of the things [people say], when we focus group people on this particular topic, [is] having gay people in stable relationships is preferable to having them in unstable relationships, so this may be an extension of that kind of view.’
The polling comes as Guam’s territory government is divided on the issue.
Guam’s Attorney General Elizabeth Barrett-Anderson issued an instruction to the island’s Department of Public Health and Social Services to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples earlier this month.
However the department has refused to and Guam’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor say they want the issue decided by either the legislature or a referendum.
In the meantime a legal challenge to the island’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples continues through the courts and is almost certain to succeed as the Federal Court District that includes Guam has already ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.
If Guam legalizes same-sex marriage it will be the first of the United States’ overseas territories to do so.