A Pew poll released yesterday has found that American attitudes toward marriage equality are becoming significantly more favorable compared to research conducted just a few years ago.
45% of Americans reported that they are supportive of legalizing marriage for gay and lesbian couples while 46% are against legislation. With a 3% margin of error, this shows a statistically even split—reflecting an upwards trend in positive opinion. In just 2009, 54% of Americans were opposed to marriage equality and just 37% supported legislation. In 2010, the split had decreased to 48% opposed and 42% in favor.
The entire report examined opinions on government and a variety of social issues, and was conducted between February 22 and March 1, receiving 1,504 responses. The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press is an independent, non-partisan research organization that regularly studies attitudes about politics, the press, and public policy issues, and conducts monthly polls in addition to major surveys.
The study’s release comes just days after the Obama administration announced that the Justice Department would stop upholding the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” in court because it is unconstitutional. DOMA defines marriage for federal reasons as the union of a man and woman, and makes it optional for states to recognize marriages for gay and lesbian couples performed outside their jurisdiction. Although the Obama administration will continue to enforce the law, the responsibility of defending it in court will likely go to Congress.
Other recent polls by the Associated Press in September and by CNN in August of last year found clear majorities of Americans supporting marriage – respectively 58% and 52%. The most recent polling by CBS found 40% of Americans supportive of full marriage rights, 30% supportive of civil unions, and only 25% preferring no recognition at all. Findings based on General Social Survey data released at the end of February also show that more Americans support rather than oppose marriage equality. Analysts expect opinions in favor of marriage to continue to rise in the future.
GLAAD will continue to report on coverage of marriage equality in the media and ensure fair and accurate representation of LGBT couples.