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Religious Tolerance logo

Longitudinal U.S. public opinion polls
on same-sex marriage and civil unions

Angus-Reid & other national polls.
Polls of high school seniors

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Angus-Reid national polls: 2008:

Date Favor Oppose  No opinion, or didn't answer
2008-JUN 44% 53% 3%
2008-DEC 44% 55% 1%

The question asked was: "Do you think marriages between gay and lesbian couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?"

The 2008-DEC poll included 1,013 randomly selected American adults between 2008 DEC-19 and DEC-21. margin of error is about ±3%. 1

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Other national polls on SSM:

Date Allowed Not allowed No opinion Reference




College freshmen 2




Adults 3

2000-MAY 34 51% 15% Adults 4
  "         "  54     18 to 34 years 4
   "         " 14     Over 65 years 4




College freshmen 5
2001-Spring 66 - - High school seniors 6




College freshmen 5

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Zogby International and Hamilton College polls of high school seniors:

Professor Dennis Gilbert and students from his public opinion polling class have conducted polls with the help of Zogby International. They sampled the opinion of one thousand randomly selected U.S. high school seniors on matters related to homosexuality, in 2001 and 2005. The margin of error is about ± 3%.

In their 2001-Spring "Gay Issues Poll" of "the class of 2001" high school students, they found:

bullet66% feel that same-sex marriages (SSM) should be legal. This compared to about 33% of adults, according to polls at that time conducted by the Associated Press, Gallup and the LA Times.

Several factors influenced their support (or lack of support) for same-sex marriage:

bullet84% of students, who would expect their parents to be accepting of a gay friend, favored SSM.
bullet80% of Roman Catholics support SSM in spite of strong opposition by their church.
bullet80% of Jews support SSM. (The accuracy of this value may be low because of the low sample size)
bullet78% of students who has a close gay friend support SSM
bullet59% of those who know a gay person favor SSM
bullet55% of those who don't know a gay person favor SSM

Again, the last three items indicates that gays and lesbians coming out of the closet has a major affect on public opinion.

On other matters related to homosexuality:

bullet78% disagree with the statement "Lesbians are disgusting."
bullet77% believe that "gays contribute to society in unique and positive ways."
bullet71% believe that adult homosexual behavior should be legal.
bullet71% would allow gay men to serve as Scout leaders.
bullet69% disagree with the statement "Gay men are disgusting."
bullet68% would allow gay couples to adopt children.

In their 2005 "Hot Button Issues Poll" the students were given three alternatives for loving, committed same-sex couples: allowing them to marry; allowing only civil unions, and not recognizing their relationship at all -- i.e. treating them like roommates. Results were:

bullet53.6% support same-sex marriage.
bullet20.1% support civil unions for same-sex couples.
bullet24.6% oppose same-sex marriage and civil unions.
bullet1.7% are unsure or gave no response.

On related matters:

bullet25.8% support an amendment to the U.S. constitution to ban same-sex marriage
bullet63% support adoption by same-sex couples.

These data are important because they represent the opinions of high school students who are about to graduate and will soon be voting. In a generation or two, they will be the political leaders.

The pollsters commented:

"Approximately 20 percent of high school seniors are staunchly anti-gay -- that is, they reject both gay marriage and civil unions and hold negative attitudes toward gays, as measured by our index. Over 80 percent of antigay seniors believe that 'homosexual relations between consenting adults' should be illegal and regard gay people as 'disgusting.' Both attitudes are rare among seniors, outside this anti-gay minority. Many of our respondents thought the very notion of labeling gays 'disgusting' was laughable. Antigay seniors are typically observant and born-again Christians, who view homosexuality as a moral or religious issue."

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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 active today.

  1. "American Majority Opposes Same-Sex Marriage," Angus Reid Global Monitor, 2009-JAN-05, at: http://www.angus-reid.com/
  2. Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles.
  3. Princeton Survey Research Associates poll for Newsweek magazine. N = 602. margin of error is ±4%.
  4. ICR of Media PA conducted the poll which was commissioned by the Associated Press. N = 1,012. margin of error ±3%.
  5. Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles. Study was based on 269,413 freshman students at colleges and universities. margin of error is less than ±1%
  6. "Hamilton College Gay Issues Poll," Hamilton College, NY. See:  http://www.hamilton.edu/ N = 1000. margin of error ±3%.

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Site navigation: Home page > "Hot" religious topics > Homosexuality > Polls > SSM-Civil union polls > here

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Copyright © 2001 TO 2010  by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2001-JUL-30
Latest update: 2010-JAN-21
Author: B.A. Robinson

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