CARBONDALE, Ill. (STMW) – A majority of Illinois voters believe the moratorium on enforcing the state’s death penalty should be lifted, nearly 73 percent of them believe that gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military and two-thirds favor legal marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples, all according to a poll released over the weekend.

The poll of 1,000 registered voters was taken Sept. 30 to Oct. 10, has a margin of error of 3 percentage points, a release from the by the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

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The survey found 56.4 percent who said the death penalty should be reinstated while 36.3 percent said it should remain suspended. There were 7.3 percent who had no opinion.

The halt to executions was imposed by then-Gov. George Ryan in 2006 after questions were raised about evidence used in death penalty convictions.

Governors Rod Blagojevich and Pat Quinn have kept the moratorium in place.

That could change next year if Republican state Sen. Bill Brady defeats Quinn in the race for governor. Brady has said he would lift the moratorium.

The survey also found differences of opinion in other controversial social issues facing Illinois.

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• There were 31.5 percent who said abortions should be legal in all circumstances, 19.1 percent who said they should be illegal in all circumstances and 45 percent who said they should be legal only in certain situations. There were 4.4 percent who said they didn’t know.

• There is wide support for extending some form of legal recognition to the relationships between gay and lesbian couples, the release said. Two-thirds favor legal marriage or civil unions. Specifically, there are 33.6 percent who said gays and lesbians should be allowed to legally marry, 33.9 percent who favor civil unions and 26.5 percent who say there should be no legal recognition of the relationships between gay and lesbian couples. There were 6 percent who didn’t know.

• There is also wide support for allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military. 72.6 percent supported allowing them to openly serve. Only 19.3 percent were opposed and 8.1 percent didn’t know.

• Registered voters were evenly divided over questions of expanded gambling in the state. Some policy-makers are promoting that idea as a way to help balance the state’s budget. There are 49.9 percent who support more gambling and 46.3 percent who oppose it. There are 3.8 percent who don’t know.

Telephone interviews were conducted by Issues & Answers Global Media Research of Virginia Beach, Virginia. It reports no Illinois political clients and was paid with non-tax dollars from the Institute’s endowment, the release said.

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