A majority of American voters oppose the Defense of Marriage Act, as well as efforts by the House Republican leadership to intervene in court cases defending the law, according to new polling released Tuesday by the Human Rights Campaign in partnership with Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research.
Overall, voters say they oppose the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — the law that forbids the federal government from recognizing legally married same-sex couples — 51 percent oppose the law and 34 percent favor it.
Independent voters, instrumental in the Republican House takeover, oppose DOMA by a 52 percent to 34 percent margin. Additionally when read statements for and against defending the law in court, 54 percent of voters oppose the House GOP intervention, while only 32 percent support it.
This poll is the first in a series of quarterly surveys from HRC and GQRR that will analyze public opinion on critical LGBT issues.
“The debate over DOMA isn’t about whether you favor marriage equality, it’s about whether the government can pick and choose which marriages they like, and which they don’t,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese.
“With five states and DC granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it’s time the federal government stop playing favorites and instead create an equal playing field for all families,” Solmonese said.
Given a list of issues important in determining their vote for President, voters ranked the economy and jobs (54 percent), Medicare and Social Security (23 percent) and education (19 percent) as most important with only 5 percent of respondents saying marriage was most important to them.
Finally, when presented with the actual benefits from which married same-sex couples are excluded, voters overwhelmingly support extending those benefits.
DOMA prohibits the federal government from granting married same-sex couples things like Social Security survivor benefits, health insurance for federal employees’ spouses, joint tax filing, family and medical leave and other critical protections.
When asked if they favor or oppose some of these benefits for gay and lesbian couples who have been legally married, voters responded:
On Social Security survivor benefits, 60 favor, 34 oppose; on federal employee health benefits for spouses, 58 percent favor, 36 percent oppose; on protecting spouses from losing their homes in cases of severe medical emergencies or death, 64 percent favor, 28 percent oppose; and on avoiding tax penalties by filing joint tax returns as a married couple, 55 percent favor, 38 percent oppose.
On Wednesday, leaders in the House and Senate will introduce the “Respect for Marriage Act” – a bill to repeal DOMA and open up the benefits, protections and obligations of marriage under federal law to same-sex couples legally married in states that have ended their exclusion from marriage.
Last Wednesday, Speaker John Boehner announced that the House would intervene to defend DOMA in court, following a Justice Department announcement that the administration believes the law to be unconstitutional.
“Americans are clamoring for Congress to deal with jobs and the economy,” said Solmonese. “This new poll shows that House Republican leaders take their eye off the economic ball at their own peril.”