A new poll released yesterday by CNN shows support for same-sex marriage in the U.S. has strengthened, with the majority of Americans believing that gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to legally marry and obtain the same rights as heterosexual couples. The results indicate that a small majority of a little over 51 percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage, while 47 percent of Americans oppose it. This is the first time a CNN poll has found a majority of Americans in support of same-sex marriage.
While support for this issue is growing, the CNN poll reflected a persistent gender gap, with over 57 percent of women supporting the legalization of same-sex marriage while over half of men oppose it. Earlier this year another poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News also found a majority of Americans in support of same-sex marriage, with 53 percent of respondents saying it should be legal. This is compared to a 2006 poll that showed just 32 percent of Americans supported legalizing same-sex marriage.
In February, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Obama administration would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in court on the grounds that it considers the law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
Currently, same sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, DC. Six states, California, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii allow same-sex couples to form civil unions or domestic partnerships, which carry some, but not all of the benefits and privileges of marriage. Currently, a bill that will establish civil unions in Delaware is awaiting the expected signature of the state’s governor. Civil union legislation is also currently pending in Colorado.
The CNN/Opinion Research poll was conducted among 824 adults by telephone from April 9-10. It has an overall sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.