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Single polls about same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions

2013: Support, opposition, inevitability,
and whether SSM is a civil right.

Sponsored link.

On this web site, "SSM" is an acronym for Same-Sex Marriage.
"LGBT" is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual.

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2013-MAR: A remarkable LifeWay poll on whether homosexuality is a civil right, the inevitability of SSM, and discrimination against LGBTs:

LifeWay Christian Resources is an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), which is one of the most active faith groups opposing SSM. The SBC actively discriminates against women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

They conducted a random survey of 1,191 American adults between 2012-NOV-14 and 16. The margin of error is ±2.9 percentage points. 7

Results were:

Question Agree Disagree Don't know/
No answer
Homosexuality is a civil rights issue like age, race, gender:
58%
29%
12%
It is inevitable that SSM will become legal throughout the U.S.:
64%
24%
12%

Among born-again, evangelical or fundamentalist Christians, only 50% agree that SSM is inevitable. Women, persons with college degrees, and young adults aged 18 to 29 are more likely to agree that homosexuality is a civil rights issue.

Participants in the survey were also asked whether individuals and companies should be allowed to discriminate with impunity against same-sex couples or on the basis of a person's sexual preference if SSM becomes legal in their state:

Question Agree Disagree Don't know/
No answer
Pastors should be able to refuse to officiate at SSMs:
63%
27%
Approx. 10%
Photographers should be able to refuse to work at SSMs:
58%
33%
Approx. 9%
Rental halls should be able to refuse to rent facilities for SSMs:
40%
52%
Approx. 8%
Landlords should be allowed to refuse to rent housing to same-sex couples:
27%
67%
Approx. 6%
Employers should be allowed to refuse employment to someone based on their sexual preference: 8
14%
82%
Approx. 4%

Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, said:

"Clearly, Americans believe the prerogative exists for individuals such as clergy or photographers to deny services for same-sex marriage. However, the level of agreement changes with scenarios that could be interpreted as more basic rights such as housing and employment. ... While a majority of Americans categorize homosexuality as a civil rights issue like age, race and gender, and almost two-thirds think legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. is evitable, the research does show lines and divisions on these issues clearly exist in our country." 8

Requiring clergy to officiate at SSMs is not really an option in the U.S. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees a wall of separation between religion and government. This is often referred to as separation of church and state. Thus, religious groups and clergy can freely discriminate in deciding which couples they will marry. Faith groups have discriminated against interracial couples, couples who are judged to be not sufficiently mature, couples where one partner was of another denomination or religion, and -- in the case of the Roman Catholic Church -- against couples where one partner was physically disabled. To our knowledge, no member of the clergy has been sued or charged with a crime for this form of discrimination.

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2013-JUL: Gallup poll shows most Americans would support federal law enforcing marriage equality:

Gallup surveyed 2,027 randomly chosen American adults between 2013-JUL-10 and 14. The margin of error is ±2,2 percentage points. Subjects were asked how they would vote if a national referendum on same-sex marriage was held. The question asked was:

"Suppose that on Election Day you could vote on key issues as well as candidates. Would you vote for or against a federal law that would make same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states?"

Results were:

  • Vote in favor of such a law: 52%;
  • Vote against: 43%;
  • No opinion: 5%.

Whether a person supports or opposes SSM depends largely on their political bent, religious status and the political party they support.

Groups that would be most supportive of such a law include liberals (77% in favor/19% opposed); NOTAS, the religiousl unaffiliated; (76%/18%), Democrats (70%/28%), 18 to 34 years-of-age (69%/37%); persons who never or rarely attend church (67%/29%).

Groups most opposed to such a law include those who attend religious services weekly (23% in favor/73% opposed); conservatives (30%/67%); Republicans (30%/66%); Protestants (38%/58%); 55 years-of-age or older (38%/58%) and Southerners (43%/51%).

An unexpected result was the heavy support for SSM from Roman Catholics (60% in favor; 36% opposed) in spite of the total opposition of the Catholic hierarchy.

Even if such a national referendum were held, it could not be binding. That is because the U.S. Constitution gives full power to define who can and cannot marry to the individual states. That is why Section 3 of the federal DOMA law was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court when it required the federal government to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages that had been legally solemnized in various states. It is also why the majority of members of Congress probably violated their oaths of office back in the Clinton era when they voted for the DOMA law even though they knew that it was unconstitutional because the federal government had no authority in defining marriage.

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Webmaster's comment:

The group that maintains this web site do not normally engage in speculation. However we suspect that the surge in support for SSM may have been caused by two recent factors:

  • Debate on the bill to initiate a repeal process of the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy (DADT). The bill was signed into law during 2010-DEC. It set up a process that might well terminate the DADT policy sometime in 2011.

  • The signing of an executive order by President Obama during 2010-APR requiring most hospitals to end discrimination against loving, committed same-sex relationships in their visitation and health-care decisions.

Both of these topics had wide support by the general public, and may have initiated a great deal of discussion and thinking by the general public about equal rights for lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender persons (LGBT). This serious consideration may have influenced public support for same-sex marriage.

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More information coming as new polls are taken.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still accessible today.

  1. Michael Foust, "Gallup poll: 58 percent oppose 'gay marriage,' half support amend.," Baptist Press, 2006-MAY-22, at: http://www.bpnews.net/
  2. Gail Mathabane, "Gays face same battle interracial couples fought," USA Today, 2004-JAN-25.
  3. "Californians Do Not Support Gay 'Marriage,' Says Poll," 2006-MAR-24, LifeSiteNews.com
  4. Nate Silver, "Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage Appears to Shift at Accelerated Pace," FiveThirtyEight.com, 2010-AUG-12, at: http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/
  5. "FiveThirtyEight," Wikipedia, as at: 2011-MAY-18, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  6. Nate Silver, "Gay Marriage Opponents Now in Minority," FiveThirtyEight.com, 2011-APR-20, at: http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/
  7. Russ Rankin, "Research: Same-Sex Marriage Is Civil Rights Issue, Americans Say," LifeWay, 2013-MAR-13, at: http://www.lifeway.com/
  8. The term "sexual preference" is still often used by religious and social conservatives in place of "sexual orientation." Persons with a bisexual orientation -- those who are sexually attracted to both men and women -- often have a sexual preference. But persons with a homosexual orientation do not have a preference; they are attracted only to the opposite gender. Persons with a heterosexual orientation do not have a preference; they are attracted only to the same gender. Some persons with a bisexual orientation do not have a preference; they are equally attracted to men and women. This web site recommends that "sexual orientation" be used. Unfortunately, the term "preference" implies that a person is capable of changing their sexual orientation, whereas "orientation" implies that one cannot change the gender to which a person is attracted. Thus the choice of terms strongly implies a belief concerning the nature of heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality.
  9. Lydia Saad, "In U.S., 52% Back Law to Legalize Gay Marriage in 50 States," Gallup, 2013-JUL-29, at: http://www.gallup.com/

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2013-MAR
Latest update: 2013-AUG-03
Author: B.A. Robinson
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