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Religious Tolerance logo

Single polls about gay marriage (a.k.a.
same-sex marriages or SSM) & civil unions

2013: Polls Showing Levels of Support,
Opposition, & Inevitability of Gay Marriage.

On this web site, "SSM" is an acronym for gay marriage and 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 in various ways against women, lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.

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

Results were:

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

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

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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" 2 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:

Photographers should be able to refuse to work at SSMs:

Rental halls should be able to refuse to rent facilities for SSMs:

Landlords should be allowed to refuse to rent houses and apartments to same-sex couples:

Employers should be allowed to refuse employment to someone based on their sexual preference: 2

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 inevitable, the research does show lines and divisions on these issues clearly exist in our country." 1

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 historically discriminated against interracial couples, couples who are judged to be not sufficiently mature, couples where one partner was of another denomination or religion, ( in the case of the Roman Catholic Church) against couples where one partner was infertile because of a physical disability, and for many other reasons. To our knowledge, no member of the clergy has been sued or charged with a crime for this form of discrimination. Certainly, none has ever been convicted.

2013-JUL: Gallup poll shows most Americans have supported marriage equality since 2011:

Gallup conducted a large survey of 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 affiliation & beliefs, and the political party they support.

Groups that would be most supportive of such a law include liberals (77% in favor/19% opposed); NOTAS -- those NOT Affiliated with a religious group (76%/18%), Democrats (70%/28%), 18 to 34 years-of-age (69%/37%); persons who never or rarely have attended 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 to marriage equality by 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 does not normally engage in speculation. However we suspect that the surge in support for SSM may have been significantly impacted 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 terminate the DADT policy and allowed gay and lesbian service members to be open about their sexual orientation.

  • 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 probably 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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This topic continues in the next essay

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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. Russ Rankin, "Research: Same-Sex Marriage Is Civil Rights Issue, Americans Say," LifeWay, 2013-MAR-13, at:
  2. The term "sexual preference" is still sometimes 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 same gender. Persons with a heterosexual orientation do not have a preference; they are attracted only to the opposite 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 cause of heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual orientation.

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Copyright © 2013 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2013-MAR
Latest update: 2017-AUG-15
Author: B.A. Robinson
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