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Poll: Majority of Americans Oppose Gay Marriage

By Rick Pedraza   |   Thursday, 28 May 2009 02:35 PM

A new USA Today/Gallup poll shows that 57 percent of Americans oppose legalizing same-sex marriage while 40 percent are in favor.

The poll, released Wednesday, comes on the heels of the California Supreme Court’s upholding of Proposition 8, a citizen-enacted constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage. The poll results reflect the highest opposition to the controversial issue since 2005, when a similar survey produced a 59-37 percent margin against same-sex marriage.

In 2008, a Gallup poll showed 56 percent of those surveyed were in opposition to gay marriage while 40 percent supported it; and in 2007, the numbers were 53 percent in opposition to 46 percent in support.

The new poll shows nearly half of Americans (48 percent) believe allowing two people of the same sex to marry will “change our society for the worse,” while only 13 percent say it will “change society for the better.” Thirty-six percent of those surveyed said it would have no effect at all.

“While Americans have become increasingly likely to believe that the law should not discriminate against gay individuals and gay couples, the public still seems reluctant at this point to extend those protections to the institution of marriage," Gallup's Jeffrey M. Jones said.

"Public support for gay marriage appears to have stalled in the last two years, even as the gay marriage movement has scored a number of legal and legislative victories at the state level in the past year," he added.

Gallup found that 75 percent of self-describing liberals support legalizing gay marriage, while only 19 percent of self-describing conservatives support it. Gallup also found that “younger Americans have typically been more supportive of same sex marriage than older Americans.”

“A majority of 18- to 29-year-olds think gay or lesbian couples should be allowed to legally marry, while support reaches only as high as 40 percent among the three older age groups,” Gallup reports.

A Quinnipiac survey conducted last month produced similar results. When asked if they would oppose a law in their state that would allow same-sex couples to get married, 55 percent said they would while 38 percent said they would not.

Further results from the Gallup poll show:

  • Sixty-nine percent of Americans are in favor of military service by openly gay men and lesbians, an increase from a 1993 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that showed only 43 percent in favor of allowing gays to serve in the military.

  • Sixty-seven percent say gay and lesbian domestic partners should have access to health insurance and other employee benefits.

  • Seventy-three percent believe gay and lesbian domestic partners should have inheritance rights.

  • Twenty-eight percent believe that gays or lesbians should not be hired as elementary school teachers.

  • Sixty-nine percent believe gays or lesbians should be allowed to teach children.

  • Fifty-four percent support adoption rights for gay couples, an increase from Newsweek polls conducted in 2002 (46 percent) and 2004 (45 percent).

    Same-sex marriages are legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, and Iowa, and will be legal in Vermont in September.

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