Majority of Americans
support gay marriage
By Elizabeth Stuart,
from the Web, May 20, 2011
For the first time since Gallup
started studying the issue in 1996, the polling organization found a majority of
Americans favor legalizing same-sex marriage.
Fifty-three percent of Americans answered yes to the question, "Do you think
marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law
as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?" In comparison,
in 1996, only 27 percent of Americans were in favor. Since May of 2010,
the number of supporters has jumped 9 percent.
The topic is expected to raise heat in several state legislatures this year,
including New York, where a state senator Thursday introduced a bill that would
"void" same-sex marriages legally performed in other states. Two years ago
this month, the California Supreme Court struck down Proposition 8, a
controversial ballot measure banning same-sex marriage.
"At the moment, those advocating changes in constitutions and laws to allow
same-sex marriage in additional states can take heart in the apparent shift in
national sentiment in their direction," Gallup wrote in a statement.
The new Gallup Poll showed 69 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of Liberals
support same-sex marriage, according to the poll, contrasted with 28 percent of
Republicans and Conservatives.
A strong majority — 70 percent — of people aged 18 to 34 believe same-sex
marriage should be legalized. Over the last year, support has increased by
16 percent. The idea is not as popular among older Americans, however.
Only 39 percent of those 55 and older gave a favorable response.
Women favored the proposition at higher rates than men.
In a Huffington Post article published Friday, Robert P. Jones, CEO of the
Public Religion Research Institute, said the poll, when combined with past
trends, may signal "the beginning of the end of the same-sex marriage debate."
The poll is the fourth in a three-month period to find a majority of Americans
favor gay and lesbian marriage. PRRI released a poll Thursday that found
51 percent of Americans favor legalizing same-sex marriage. In March, an
ABC News/Washington Post poll found 53 percent of Americans believed it should
be legal "for gay and lesbian couples to get married. In April, a
CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll concluded 51 percent were in support.
While the Gallup poll noted those who attended church less frequently were more
likely to support same-sex unions, Jones pointed out that "the debate is no
longer between secular Americans who support same-sex marriage on one side and
religious Americans who oppose it on the other." According to PRRI's
survey, a majority of Catholics and Protestants support allowing gay and
lesbians to marry.
Bill Duncan, director of the Marriage Law Foundation, a Utah nonprofit that
provides legal resources to defend marriage between a man and a woman,
questioned the validity of the polls.
"I'm not sure this tells us all that much," he said. "We've seen again and
again in states where there is a proposal on the ballot to protect marriage
between a man and a woman, it wins. It's always a surprise because the
polling done before the vote shows a lot stronger support for gay marriage."
He said the fight for traditional marriage is "far from over."
"We've heard this kind of thing about marriage for a long time, that we're done
and we need to move on to a new view," he said. "It's never been true
before and it's not true now."
The Obama administration recently cut support for the federal Defense of
Marriage Act, which bans the federal recognition of same-sex marriage.
House Speaker John Boehner and Republicans in Congress recently hired their own
lawyer to defend the law, according to USA Today.
Gallup's results are based on their three-day Values and Beliefs poll, which
they've conducted every May since 2004.
Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of
Columbia already allow same-sex marriages.