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Religious Tolerance logo

U.S. public opinion polls


Polls showing support & opposition
among U.S. adults about gay marriage
and civil unions from 1986 to now:

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Gay marriages are also referred to as same-sex marriages, often
using the abbreviation "SSM." The latter term is more accurate
because some same-sex marriages are entered into by a person
or persons who is not gay but has a bisexual orientation.

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gay marriage symbol A brief overview of the availability of gay marriages and civil unions in the U.S.:

In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage. The state Supreme Court ordered the state Legislature to implement the necessary legislation.

Trends in support and opposition to same-sex marriage (SSM)have been similar to the earlier trends for interracial marriage back in the late 20th century. For decades, there was a gradual increase in support for interracial marriages by about 1 percentage point a year and a gradual decrease in opposition by the same amount. However, for SSM, there seems to have been a speedup in the process  during the early 2010's, of about 2.3 percentage points per year. National support for gay marriage reached 50% in 2011 and continued to increase.

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By 2014-MAY, same-sex marriages were available in 18 jurisdictions (17 states and the District of Columbia) in the U.S. including the two most populous states, California and New York. In excess of 60 lawsuits were active in federal courts in various states to legalize SSM. One of these -- or perhaps a combination of these -- lawsuits were expected to be eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

SSMs are also available in about 17 other countries, including Canada's 10 provinces and 3 territories as well as England, Wales and Scotland.

Some jurisdictions limit SSM to residents. Other places, like Canada, allow both residents and visitors to marry.

In addition, a few U.S. states and other countries allow same-sex couples to enter into civil unions, domestic partnerships, or similar arrangements. In the U.S., these couples receive some or all of the rights, privileges, and obligations that the state gives to married couples. However, they did not receive what is for many the most important right of all -- the right to call their relationship a marriage.

Whatever recognition, protections, benefits, given by states to same-sex couples and their children, all were originally denied 1,138 federal benefits and protections that are automatically given to married opposite-sex couples. This was due to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This part of DOMA was declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in late 2013-JUN.

On 2015-JAN-16, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted appeals of four lawsuits from four states -- Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee -- concerning same-sex marriage (SSM) (a.k.a. gay marriage). The combined case is called Obergefell v. Hodges. On 2015-JUN-26, the high court issued a ruling legalizing SSM across the U.S. SSM became immediately available throughout the U.S., in principle if not in practice! County clerks in some states refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples for a while. However, this was ironed out within a few months. The only exception was American Samoa. Most of the population there are considered American residents, but not American citizens. As a result, the ruling of the High Court does not necessarily apply in that territory. More details on this case.

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Contents of this section:

It lists the results of many public opinion surveys that evaluated the support of, and opposition to, SSM -- generally by a random sampling of American adults or registered voters. They are grouped by polling agency. Unfortunately, results are vary significantly on the precise question asked, the wording of questions asked before the SSM query, the time of day that the subject was phoned, the type of phone (cell and/or landline), etc. Thus the findings are not all strictly comparable. However, long-term trends in the direction of increased support, and reduced opposition, to SSM are obvious.

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Support/opposition for same-sex marriage (SSM) covered in this section:

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Homosexuality > Polls > here

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Copyright © 2001 TO 2016  by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JUL-30
Latest update: 2016-OCT-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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