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Same-sex marriage in the United States public opinion

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Advocates of same-sex marriage generally hold that marriage and its benefits should not be denied to same-sex couples, and that such a denial infringes one or more of their rights as American citizens. Critics of same-sex marriage generally hold that marriage should be defined as only consisting of a union of one man and one woman, and that no rights exist that should compel a state to recognize any relationships to the contrary of that definition.

Some people make a distinction between same-sex marriage and civil unions, which would provide same-sex couples certain legal rights such as health care proxies or insurance.

Opposition correlated with level of religious attendance, older age, Republican Party affiliation and residing in the southern states. Levels of support were higher among the young, non-church going, independents, Democratic Party affiliated and those who lived in the Northeast United States. On July 4, 2005, the General Synod of the United Church of Christ endorsed a same-sex marriage resolution.

In some states, particularly in the northeastern and some western states, people have expressed support for same-sex marriage in some polls. However, in states where the issue was put to voters, same sex marriage bans were passed with a rare exception.

PollsEdit

The most recent national poll on same-sex marriage in the United States was conducted in June 2006 by ABC News. The poll found that the majority (58%) of Americans remained opposed to same-sex marriages, while the minority (36%) support them. However, on the question of a constitutional amendment, more are now opposed than for it. The majority (51%) of Americans say the issue should be left for the states to decide, while 43% would agree with amending the Constitution.[1]

Prior to this poll, Gallup conducted a poll on the issue through May 2006. The poll found opposition to same-sex marriage had fallen slightly, as other polls found a sharper dip. In the poll, when asked if marriages between homosexuals should be recognized by law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages, 58% (down 1 point from Aug 2005, and 9 points from March 1996) of Americans responded that they should not be recognized. 39% (up 2 points from Aug 2005, and 12 points from 1996) felt same-sex marriages should be recognized by law. If "homosexuals" is replaced with "same-sex couples", 42% back same-sex marriage while 56% oppose it.[citation needed]

A similar poll conducted in March of 2006, a Princeton Survey Research Associates / Pew Research Center poll concluded 39% of Americans support same-sex marriage, while 51% oppose it, and 10% were undecided. In December 2004, a poll by the same company found 61% of Americans opposed - with 38% "strongly opposed". Now, less than 2 years later, just 23% are "strongly opposed". However, an identical poll taken by the same group in June 2006 found a rise in those opposed to same-sex marriage, with 56% disapproving of the practice.

The most recent poll prior to this also showed opposition to gay marriages had fallen. An Opinion Dynamics / Fox News poll released April 06th of 2006. According to this poll, 55% of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, 33% support it, and 11% are unsure of where they stand.

CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll. April 29-May 1, 2005. Adults nationwide.

"Do you think marriages between homosexuals should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?" N=492, MoE ± 5 (Form A)

In the following table, "Y" means "Should Be Valid"; "N" means "Should Not Be Valid"; and "U" means "Unsure".

Poll Date Y N U
4/29-5/1/2005 39 56 5
3/18-3/20/2005 28 68 4
7/19-7/21/2004 32 62 6
3/5-3/7/2004 33 61 6
2/16-2/17/2004 32 64 4
2/6-2/8/2004 36 59 5
12/2003 31 65 4
10/2003 35 61 4
6/2003 39 55 6
1/2000 34 62 4
2/1999 35 62 3
3/1996 27 68 5

A poll taken June 22, 2006 by Rasmussen Reports asked "Should marriage be defined in terms of a union between a man and a woman? Or should marriage be defined as a union between any two people including same sex couples?" 68% replied that "marriage is between man and woman", 29% said marriage "between any two people" and 4% were "not sure".[2]

CBSEdit

CBS News poll conducted February 24-28, 2005[3] asking:

  • "Which comes closest to your view? Gay couples should be allowed to legally marry. OR, Gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions but not legally marry. OR There should be no legal recognition of a gay couple's relationship."
Legal marriage Civil union No recognition Unsure
All political parties 23% 34% 41% 2%
  Republicans 8% 37% 54% 1%
  Democrats 29% 35% 34% 2%
  Independents 30% 29% 37% 4%
Trend over time *Not in consecutive order
November 18-21, 2004 21% 32% 44% 3%
July 11-15, 2004 28% 31% 38% 3%
May 20-23, 2004 28% 29% 40% 3%
March 10-14, 2004 22% 33% 40% 5%
  • The same CBS News Poll highlighting regional, political party affiliations and age differences in views. May 20 - 23, 2004. Nationwide:
Demographic Marriage Civil union No recognition
All 28% 29% 40%
Republicans 13% 33% 53%
Democrats 32% 28% 36%
Independents 37% 27% 33%
18-29 years 43% 32% 25%
30-44 29% 25% 44%
45-64 26% 29% 41%
65 & older 12% 32% 51%
Northeast 35% 31% 33%
Midwest 26% 23% 47%
South 23% 26% 48%
West 31% 36% 28%

Pew ResearchEdit

The Pew Research Center/Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life survey poll[3] asking:

  • "Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally?" (Margin of error three percent)
Date Favor Oppose Unsure
March 8-12, 2006 [4] 39% 51% 10%
July 13-17 2005 36% 53% 11%
December 1-16, 2004 32% 61% 7%
August 5-10, 2004 29% 60% 11%
July 2004 32% 56% 12%
March 2004 32% 59% 9%
February 2004 30% 63% 7%
November 2003 30% 62% 8%
October 2004 30% 58% 12%
  • "Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them many of the same rights as married couples? (Margin of error three percent)
Date Favor Oppose Unsure
July 13-17, 2005 53% 40% 7%
August 5-10, 2004 48% 45% 7%
July 2004 49% 43% 8%
March 2004 49% 44% 7%
October 2003 45% 47% 8%

Pew has since done another study in March 2006 and found that only 51% oppose gay marriage, with 39% supporting it, and the level of "strongly opposing" gay marriage has fallen from 42% to 28%.[4]

ReferencesEdit

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