5 things to know about public opinion on same-sex marriage

Supporters of the law insist that human rights issues shouldn't be decided in a referendum.

Supporters of the law insist that human rights issues shouldn't be decided in a referendum. Karen Pulfer Focht, AP

The wedding rings of Thomas Kostura and Ijpe DeKoe, a same-sex couple from Memphis, Tenn.Karen Pulfer Focht, AP

The wedding rings of Thomas Kostura and Ijpe DeKoe, a same-sex couple from Memphis, Tenn.

WASHINGTON — Americans appear largely ready to accept same-sex marriage but seem divided on whether the Supreme Court should affirm that right nationwide.

So say polls conducted before the court’s ruling, expected any day, on whether to make same-sex marriage a constitutional right.

Five things to know about public opinion on same-sex marriage:

GROWING SUPPORT MARRIAGE EQUALITY

According to an Associated Press-GfK poll in April, nearly half of Americans favor laws allowing gay and lesbian couples to wed in their own states, while just over a third are opposed. The poll was conducted just before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that will probably decide whether states can continue to bar same-sex couples from marrying.

Other recent polls have found even higher support for same-sex marriage. For example, a Pew Research Center poll conducted in May found that 57 percent of Americans support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while a Gallup poll also conducted in May found 60 percent say those marriages should be legally recognized. The AP-GfK poll, unlike the Pew and Gallup surveys, offered an option for respondents to say they neither favor nor oppose gay marriage, which was selected by 14 percent of respondents.

AN IDEOLOGICAL DIVIDE

There’s a significant partisan divide on the issue, according to the April AP-GfK poll. Two-thirds of Democrats, but less than one-third of Republicans, support marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Even within each party there are significant differences by ideology. Just 15 percent of conservative Republicans, but 46 percent of moderate or liberal Republicans, favor laws allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. Eight in 10 liberal Democrats, but just 55 percent of moderate and conservative ones, support letting gay and lesbian couples marry legally.

On the other hand, more than 7 in 10 Americans across party lines view legal recognition of same-sex marriages as “inevitable,” according to the Pew poll.

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SPLIT ON COURT ACTION

Americans are split down the middle on what action the Supreme Court should take when it rules on the marriage case, according to the April AP-GfK poll. Fifty percent said the court should rule that same-sex marriage must be legal nationwide, and 48 percent said it should not.

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