Poll shows Republicans bucking national trend on same-sex marriage

Updated 3:45 p.m. ET.

Bucking an ever-shifting national current, most Republican voters remain firmly rooted in opposition to same-sex marriage, a poll released Tuesday shows.

Commissioned by conservative heavyweight groups American Values and the Family Research Council (FRC), the survey taken last month sampled 801 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents. Among them, 82 percent said they agree that marriage should be confined as being only between a man and a woman; 75 percent completely disagreed that public officials should be working to redefine the institution to include same-sex couples.

American Values President Gary Bauer told CBS News he thinks the results proffer "an accurate reflection of where a significant majority of conservatives are" - but they illustrate a position that runs paradox to that of the majority of Americans. A CBS News/New York Times poll taken in February showed more than half - 56 percent - the country backs legalizing same-sex marriage.

There's "definitely movement" toward broader support for redefining marriage, Bauer conceded. But pointing to a 2012 vote banning same-sex marriage in North Carolina, he added, "I do not agree that it's as pronounced as some of the polling data seems to suggest."

"The day before the vote, the side in favor of allowing same-sex marriage in North Carolina had a double-digit lead; it didn't even look like it would be close," he said. "When people voted the next day, in fact my side won by double digits.

"...I don't know if 'intimidation' is the right word," Bauer went on, "but there's this idea that sort of compares being in favor of the traditional definition of marriage with being a bigot or whatever. So people know what a politically correct answer is if a pollster asks that question."

The uptick in support for same-sex marriage is unquestionably inflated, FRC President Tony Perkins agreed, chalking it up in part to the wording many polls use.

"If you're asked whether you're in favor or not in favor of legalizing an issue like this - well, nobody really wants to be making anybody a criminal here," he said. "So you're sort of backed into a corner on what kind of answer you feel OK about giving."

Recent weeks have shown the GOP take some tangible steps away from its historic stance against same-sex marriage. Last weekend Illinois Republicans ousted six party officials who called for the party chair to step down after coming out in support of same-sex marriage; several days later, Nevada Republicans struck anti-same sex language from its party platform.

Perkins argued that by abandoning its stalwart post against same-sex marriage, the Republican Party not only jeopardizes its chances at the ballot box - it also contributes to a deteriorating culture.

"As we go further down this road, people are realizing that this issue isn't just about allowing two people who love each other to share their lives together or be allowed hospital visitation rights; this idea of redefining marriage if fundamentally altering our society," he said.

"You know, somebody might ask me, how does two people getting married affect you?" Perkins continued. "Well, it's affecting what my kids are taught in school. You see in the case of Mozilla, it's affecting whether you're able to express an opinion without being concerned about losing your job. Then there's the family aspect: Social science is very clear on that that children do best sociologically, financially later on, basically every category, when they grow up in a household with a mother and father who share a lifelong relationship."


  • Lindsey Boerma On Twitter»

    Lindsey Boerma is senior video producer for CBSNews.com.

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