News

Poll: Majority of Americans support gay marriage

Poll: Majority of Americans support gay marriage

GAY MARRIAGE: Seventeen states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage, with bans overturned in several states after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married same-sex couples were eligible for federal benefits. Photo: Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Support for gay marriage has surged in the United States in the decade since it first became legal in Massachusetts, with just over half of Americans now supporting the idea, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

The survey on attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people comes as U.S. lawmakers and courts are increasingly allowing same-sex couples to wed.

Some 53 percent of the 4,509 Americans surveyed by the Public Religion Research Institute said they supported gay marriage, up from 32 percent in 2003, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize it.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage, with bans overturned in several states after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June that legally married same-sex couples were eligible for federal benefits.

Fewer Americans who describe themselves as religious oppose same-sex marriages, the survey found. Negative church teachings or treatment of gay couples was cited by 31 percent of millennials, or people 18 to 33, as a major factor in leaving their childhood religion.

“This new research provides further evidence that negative teachings on this issue have hurt churches’ ability to attract and retain young people,” said Robert Jones, chief executive of the institute.

Jews were most likely to support gay marriage, with 83 percent saying they did so, followed by 58 percent of white Roman Catholics and 56 percent of Hispanic Catholics. Among Hispanic Protestants, 46 percent favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry and 49 percent oppose it.

By contrast, 59 percent of black Protestants and 69 percent of white evangelical Protestants oppose same-sex marriage.

Nearly three-quarters, or 73 percent, of religiously unaffiliated Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.

MISCONCEPTIONS

The survey also underscored misconceptions about gay rights. Only 15 percent of Americans correctly said that it is legal to refuse to hire someone because he or she is lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Those polled also overestimate the size of the LGBT population, with a median estimate of 20 percent. Just 14 percent of Americans accurately say that it was 5 percent or less.

Among the U.S. regions, majorities in the Northeast, West and Midwest favor letting gay and lesbian couples marry. Southerners are split, with 48 percent opposing it and 48 percent favoring it.

In an effort to kick-start same-sex marriage in the South, Freedom to Marry, an advocacy group, launched a $1 million campaign on Monday to build support for it in the region.

None of the 17 U.S. states that recognize gay marriage are located in the Southeast, where several states still have bans on the practice in their state constitutions.

Since mid-December, federal judges have ruled bans on same-sex marriage in Oklahoma, Utah and Virginia unconstitutional. Those decisions have been stayed pending appeals.

Court challenges of same-sex marriage bans are pending in several other states. Thirty-three states ban same-sex couples from marrying.

The survey was carried out between November 12 and December 18, 2013, and was funded by the Ford Foundation. The margin of error is 1.7 percentage points.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and Meredith Mazzilli)

Recent Headlines

in Entertainment, National

Stars join protests over passing of Indiana’s Religious Freedom law

Fresh
George Takei poses for a portrait at Quaker Good Energy Lodge with GenArt and the Collective , during the Sundance Film Festival, on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 in Park City, Utah.

Celebrities call for an Indiana boycott after the passing of a controversial law that could lead to discrimination against gay couples.

in National

Senate’s Harry Reid will not seek re-election

Fresh
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nev. adjusts his glasses as he speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 24, 2015, following a policy luncheon. Reid is wearing special glasses as part of his recovery from injuries suffered in an exercise accident in January.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says that it would be "inappropriate" for him to seek re-election.

in Sports

Coyotes broadcaster charged with assault in casino fight

Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Nick Boynton warms up before facing the Colorado Avalanche in an NHL hockey game in Denver on Monday, Feb. 4, 2008.

Nick Boynton, an Arizona Coyotes broadcaster and former NHL defensemen, faces charges after biting an officer at a Buffalo casino.

in Sports

Tennessee fires basketball coach Donnie Tyndall

Tennessee head coach Donnie Tyndall responds to a officials call in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Vanderbilt on Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee won in overtime 76-73.

Tennessee fires coach Donnie Tyndall after one season, amid an NCAA investigation.

in Sports

Kentucky rolls Mountaineers in the Midwest Regional

Kentucky's Marcus Lee, right, blocks a shot by West Virginia's Jonathan Holton during the first half of a college basketball game in the NCAA men's tournament regional semifinals, Thursday, March 26, 2015, in Cleveland.

Top-seed Kentucky advances after defeating West Virginia 78-39 rout of West Virginia in the Midwest Regional.