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Poll: Majority Says States Should Decide Same-Sex Marriage Rights

Image: Poll: Majority Says States Should Decide Same-Sex Marriage Rights Rhode Island state Sen. Donna Nesselbush reacts seconds after the state senate passed a same-sex marriage bill on April 24. Nesselbush was the main sponsor of the bill.

By Melanie Batley   |  

A solid majority of Americans believe the states, not the federal government, should decide whether same-sex marriage should be legal, even though most support marriage equality for gay people, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

The poll of 1,022 adults conducted May 31 to June 4 found that 60 percent of respondents believe same-sex marriage rights should be decided at the state level, while just 33 percent say the decision should be up to the federal government.

Fifty-one percent of people currently back marriage rights for gay people, according to the poll, while 44 percent are opposed. Support among those younger than 30 reaches 68 percent, but just 32 percent of those 65 and older are in favor of gay marriage.

"We're sort of set up for things to go through the states, and then filter up to the federal government," Steve Koivisto, a supporter of same-sex marriage, told The New York Times. "The time will come soon enough when enough of these states will have legalized it, for the federal government to make it law."

The survey also found that a majority 56 percent of respondents believe the federal government should recognize legal marriages of same-sex couples and give them the same federal benefits as legally married heterosexual couples. Thirty-nine percent are against it.

The findings come as the Supreme Court prepares to issue decisions this month on two high-profile same-sex marriage cases. One will consider the constitutionality of California's ban on gay marriage, while the other will decide whether to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.


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A solid majority of Americans believe the states, not the federal government, should decide whether same-sex marriage should be legal, even though most support marriage equality for gay people, according to a new poll.
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