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Louisiana Survey: Gay marriage, pot legalization gaining popularity among residents


The 2014 Louisiana Survey examined a number of social issues including opinions on gay marriage, the legalization of marijuana, tort reform and more.

The Louisiana Survey is conducted annually by the Public Policy Research Lab, or PPRL, and sponsored by the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs in the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication.

The survey found that support for gay marriage and civil unions has seen a slight increase since last year’s survey. And, while a majority of Louisiana residents, or 79 percent, say marijuana should be legal for medical use, two out of three people, or 65 percent, believe that marijuana will eventually be legalized for personal use. Most residents, 64 percent, also believe in state tort reform, or limiting the amount of damages that a plaintiff can seek in a legal case.

“Exploring residents’ opinions on social issues helps us track changes over time,” said Amy Reynolds, director of the Reilly Center and associate dean of graduate studies at the Manship School. “There were so many hot-button issues this year, we have a lot of very valuable information to share with state leaders.”

On the topic of same-sex marriage and civil unions, support for same sex marriage increased from 39 to 42 percent over the past year, while support for civil unions increased from 47 to 50 percent. Regardless of their personal views, two out of three respondents, or 67 percent, say they think same-sex marriage will eventually be legal in Louisiana.

Concerning the legalization of marijuana, 79 percent of Louisiana residents endorse legalizing medical marijuana. Forty-four percent of Louisiana residents support legalizing marijuana for personal use, and 54 percent are opposed. Regardless of their personal views, nearly two of three respondents, or 65 percent, say they think marijuana will eventually be legal for personal use in Louisiana.

Results concerning tort reform show that 64 percent of Louisiana residents believe there should be limits on the amount of damages a plaintiff can seek in a case, and 50 percent believe that at least some businesses avoid Louisiana over concerns about the legal environment.

A majority of Louisiana residents, or 54 percent, believe that some groups in Louisiana are advantaged because of their race. Forty-two percent of residents believe everyone has a fair chance. These perceptions are sharply divided by race – 75 percent of African-Americans believe some groups are advantaged because of race, compared to 43 percent of white residents.

An overwhelming 78 percent of Louisiana residents polled said they believe political campaign contributors have more influence over the political process than citizens. Seventy-one percent support requiring political donors to disclose their occupation.

Louisiana residents might support some tighter restrictions on firearms access, but they oppose a ban on assault weapons. Fifty-five percent of residents polled say they support more statewide restrictions on access to firearms, while 43 percent were opposed to more restrictions. Fifty-four percent of those polled oppose a statewide ban on assault weapons.

While Louisiana residents overwhelming recognize that the health benefits of vaccinations outweigh the risks, a substantial minority, or 25 percent, of those polled either believe vaccinations are more dangerous than the diseases they are designed to prevent, or 14 percent, or are unsure.

Sixty-percent of Louisiana residents polled say the world’s temperatures have probably been going up over the past 100 years, but only half of those same respondents believe the change is due to human activity.

When asked about crime, 62 percent of Louisiana residents polled say that crime is increasing in the state, while 47 percent say that crime is increasing in their local community.

Louisiana residents also overwhelmingly support, by a 72-to-22 percent margin, reducing sentences for people convicted of non-violent crimes.

Access to the complete 2014 Louisiana Survey, as well as reports on each section – social and political issues, health care, education and the “State of the State” – is available on the LSU Public Policy Research Lab website at http://sites01.lsu.edu/wp/pprl/


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