A straw poll of conservative leaders at the “Values Voters” summit revealed that the religious right is warming up to our posturing Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but they’re not really worked-up about same-gender marriage…or are they?

Yesterday, rockstar pollster Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com, highlighted an interesting tidbit from the wide-ranging poll of attendees at the gathering of leaders from the religious right (including Governor Tim Pawlenty and Representative Michelle Bachmann):

Abortion ranked first among issues of concern to straw-poll voters, getting 41 percent of the vote, with protection of religious liberty second with 18 percent.

Opposition to same-sex marriage was third at 7 percent.

Silver points out that this is a steep drop from the last poll, in 2007, where “Same-Sex Marriage” took second place in this angst index (at 20 percent), even though battles over same-gender marriage are smoldering from California to Maine. At the same time, he overlooks the 18 percent of attendees who were most concerned about the “protection of religious liberty,” a worry opponents of same-gender marriage trot out in each battle they fight. In Maine yesterday, supporters of the state’s same-gender marriage law are crying foul and throwing cold water on their opponents’ claims – made in a TV commercial – that religious groups will be persecuted for conscientious objection to “homosexuality” or LGBT rights.

While the potential is there, those fighting the veto effort said it has not been the case in other states, and in Maine, it’s being overstated.

“They have various theories about why there might be litigation, but the test is what has happened in other jurisdictions. Law professors have theories all the time,” University of Maine Law Professor David Cluchey said.

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