Skip to comments.Poll Finds Majority Favors Law Against Gay Marriage; Opposition to Civil Unions Increases
Posted on 08/19/2003 7:00:31 AM PDT by truthandlife
More than half of Americans favor a law barring gay marriage and are opposed to allowing civil unions that could provide gay couples with the same benefits as marriage, an Associated Press poll found.
The survey also indicated presidential candidates could lose the backing of some voters if they support gay marriage or civil unions.
The poll, conducted for the AP by ICR-International Communications Research of Media, Pa., found 52 percent favor a law banning gay marriages, while 41 percent oppose such a law.
About four in 10 - 41 percent - support allowing civil unions, roughly the same level found in an AP poll three years ago. But 53 percent now say they oppose civil unions, up from 46 percent in the earlier survey.
The increase came largely from people who previously were undecided, the poll suggested.
Close to half of those surveyed said they would be less likely to support a presidential candidate who backs civil unions (44 percent) or gay marriage (49 percent), while only around 10 percent said they would be more likely.
"I don't think it's a great idea; the whole idea of marriage is bringing up children," said Jim Martin, a 64-year-old engineer from Alexandria, Va. "If somebody was promoting it, I would vote against them."
The issue poses a challenge for the Democratic presidential candidates in the 2004 election. The six leading candidates say they oppose gay marriage but are sharply critical of efforts to legally ban it, either with a law or by amending the Constitution.
Four of the six - former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, Missouri Rep. Dick Gephardt, Florida Sen. Bob Graham and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry - say they support civil unions. North Carolina Sen. John Edwards and Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman say they favor benefits for gay partners, but say states should decide on civil unions.
President Bush has said he supports efforts to legally ban gay marriage, but encourages tolerance of gays and lesbians.
In the AP poll, about one-third of people who identified themselves as Democrats and independents said they would be less likely to support a candidate who backs civil unions. Twice as many Republicans said they feel that way.
More than four in 10 Democrats support passing laws against gay marriage, according to the poll. Two-thirds of Republicans support passing such laws.
The issue of gay rights has gotten increased attention since June, when the Supreme Court threw out a Texas law prohibiting gay sex, saying such a ban violates constitutionally guaranteed privacy rights. The decision mobilized both gay rights advocates and conservatives, who said it could lead to legalization of gay marriage.
Conservative leaders rallied supporters to oppose legal gay marriage. In late July, the Vatican urged Catholics and non-Catholics to unite in campaigning against gay marriages and gay adoptions.
The poll found 54 percent favor a constitutional amendment barring gay marriage and specifying that marriage only be between a man and a woman, while 42 percent oppose it.
"The public clearly draws the line at gay marriage," said Karlyn Bowman, a public opinion analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank in Washington. She said it's less clear if civil unions will be a significant issue by the election in November 2004.
"There's often a bit of rethinking on an issue after a big development like a Supreme Court decision," she said.
At least some of those surveyed who back gay marriage say the issue could determine how they vote in 2004.
"It might make a significant difference in whether I would support a candidate," said Jody Moore, a graduate student living in the suburbs of Los Angeles, who favors gay marriage. "It's a question of dignity."
The AP poll also suggested public attitudes vary by age. Support for civil unions and opposition to laws against gay marriage were significantly higher among young adults and dipped progressively among older age groups. Men were more likely than women to oppose gay marriage and support laws against it.
Residents of more rural areas were significantly more likely to favor laws against civil unions and gay marriage.
The poll of 1,028 adults conducted from Aug. 8-12 and has an error margin of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Isn't Widdle Joey an Orthodox Jew?
Aren't Orthodox Jews against homosexual behavior?
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