Two recently released polls tell us
what we may have instinctively already known for some time: Gay
marriage approval remains in a virtual dead heat.
In fact, gay marriage appears to have
wedged itself as our most divisive social issue, with some polls
showing the country nearly evenly divided.
A new survey by the Public Policy
Institute of California (PPIC) reports only a one percent difference
between those who approve of gay marriage in California and those who
do not (47% approve, 48% do not). A larger national poll conducted
by Harris Interactive and commissioned by the Gay & Lesbian
Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) arrived at a similar conclusion.
That poll found gay marriage approval stalling out at 47%, while a
slim majority disapproved (49%).
And while the GLAAD survey, titled the
Pulse of Equality, showed a large majority (75%) of
respondents favored legal recognition of gay unions, nearly 1 in 3
did not believe in gay marriage, opting instead for civil unions or
domestic partnerships for gay couples.
A new Princeton Survey commissioned by
Newsweek probed a bit deeper at the gay marriage question.
Newsweek's national survey found
greater resistance to the acceptance of gay marriage. In that survey
only 39% of respondents agreed that gay marriage should be legal,
with a majority (55%) opposing.
An unexplained quirk shows a large
number of people who believe gay marriage should be legal favor a
national gay marriage ban.
When Newsweek asked, “Even
though you told me you favor full marriage rights for same-sex
couples ... would you favor or oppose an amendment to the U.S.
Constitution that would BAN gay marriage IN ALL STATES?” a large
number of respondents (43%) said they would favor banning gay
marriage nationwide, with 52% opposing it. Keep in mind these are
people who are in favor of gay marriage.
Two polls (Newsweek and GLAAD)
found growing public support of rights often associated with marriage
for gays and lesbians, fostering and adoption of children,
inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, and extending health
insurance and other employee benefits to gays and lesbians included.
Both the Newsweek and GLAAD poll
found a large majority (66% and 69%, respectively) of respondents
agreeing with President-elect Barack Obama's pledge to repeal a
current ban on gays serving openly in the military.
“Majorities of Americans clearly
favor equality for gay and transgender people,” said GLAAD
President Neil G. Giuliano, “but we've seen that too many still
mistakenly believe that the intolerance and injustice we face are
things of the past. So it's more vital than ever that we tell our
stories, illustrate the injustices we face, and remind people of the
common ground we share.”
Still, it is gay marriage that remains
most controversial. In New York, the Legislature is debating taking
up the issue, while the Iowa Supreme Court begins hearing arguments
that could possibly lead to gay marriage there, on Tuesday. And in
California, the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to
a highly controversial constitutional amendment banning gay marriage
in the state, and may render a decision as early as March.
With two state Supreme Courts likely to
rule on gay marriage in the coming year, public support for the issue
will likely remain unchanged for the near future.