CBSN

Poll: Most Oppose Same-Sex Unions

Gay marriage, nation divided
CBS
The American public continues to oppose the idea of same-sex marriage and supports a constitutional amendment to outlaw it. Still, a majority does not think the issue of same-sex marriage should be part of this year's election campaign and fewer now say the issue would affect their vote than did two months ago.

28% of Americans think gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry --up slightly since March. Another 29% say gay and lesbian couples should be permitted to form civil unions. Overall, 57% of Americans support some type of legal status for same-sex couples. Four in 10, however, think the relationships of same-sex couples ought to have no legal recognition.

SAME-SEX COUPLES SHOULD BE ALLOWED:

Now
To legally marry
28%
To form civil unions
29%
No legal recognition
40%

3/2004
To legally marry
22%
To form civil unions
33%
No legal recognition
40%

A Constitutional amendment that would allow marriage only between a man and a woman still has the support of a majority of Americans. 60% favor such an amendment, while 37% oppose such it.

The level of support for such an amendment differs among some groups. While a majority of Republicans and Democrats both support a Constitutional amendment, Independents are divided.

Groups most likely to support same-sex marriage include those under age 30, those living in the Northeast, and college graduates. Democrats and Independents are more likely than Republicans to favor same-sex marriages. Men and women have similar views on the legal recognition of same-sex couples.

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND ELECTION 2004

56% of voters now say they could vote for someone who disagrees with their position on the issue of same-sex marriage, while 35% say they could NOT vote for such a candidate. In March, voters were more evenly split. Then, 45% said they could vote for someone who disagreed with them on same-sex marriage, but 44% said they could NOT support a candidate who held a different position. With growing concerns about the war, perhaps the attention of voters is now more focused on the situation in Iraq.

Voters who back the Constitutional amendment are now divided as to whether they would vote for a candidate who disagrees with their position on same-sex marriage: 45% say they would vote for a candidate with an opposing view, while 45% say they would not. In March, a majority of these voters – 61% - said they could NOT vote for a candidate who disagreed with them on the issue of same-sex marriage.

74% of voters who oppose a Constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage say they would support a candidate with a different position on the issue. Opinions of these voters have changed little since March.

Yet, most voters would prefer the issue of same-sex marriage not be a part of the election campaign. Seven in 10 say the issue should have no part in the campaign. 20% say same-sex marriage should have a minor role in the campaign, and only 9% think it should have a major role.

SHOULD SAME-SEX MARRIAGE BE PART OF ELECTION CAMPAIGN?
(Registered voters)

Now
Yes, major part
9%
Yes, minor part
20%
No
70%

3/2004
Yes, major part
14%
Yes, minor part
17%
No
65%

Also, just 2% of registered voters mention same-sex marriage as the top issue they want the candidates to discuss, ranking well below the war in Iraq and the economy.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

This poll was conducted among a nationwide random sample of 1,113 adults, interviewed by telephone May 20-23, 2004. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample.