Six in 10 Americans oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry and a majority favors passing a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.

A recent FOX News national poll, conducted by Opinion Dynamics Corporation, finds that 26 percent of Americans favor but 62 percent oppose same-sex marriage, and almost as many would ban it through a constitutional amendment. Over half (58 percent) favor passing an amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

In general, young people, Democrats, and those who have a friend or relative who is gay, are most likely to favor allowing same-sex marriage. And while women are somewhat more inclined than men to favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry a partner of the same sex, young people are more than three times as likely as older Americans to favor it. About twice as many Democrats and independents are in favor of same-sex marriage than are Republicans.

Public opinion today is only slightly more accepting of same-sex marriages than it was seven years ago. When the question was asked on a June 1996 FOX News poll, 22 percent of Americans were in favor and 65 percent opposed to allowing gays to marry.

The new poll also finds that a majority of the public (56 percent) opposes allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly as priests, ministers or rabbis, with a third in favor of gays serving in these roles. Conversely, a majority accepts having gays and lesbians serve openly in the military, with 64 percent in favor and 25 percent opposed. Again, young Americans, Democrats, independents, and those with a gay friend or family member are most supportive of gays on these issues.

Polling was conducted by telephone August 12-13, 2003 in the evenings. The total sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points. 

1. Recently there has been a lot of talk about allowing gays and lesbians to marry a partner of the same sex. Do you favor or oppose same-sex marriage?

  Favor Oppose (Not sure)
12-13 Aug 03     (All) 26% 62 12
Female 28% 60 12
Male 23% 65 12
Age 18-34 48% 42 10
35-50 25% 62 13
51-59 26% 63 12
60-70 15% 76 10
Over 70 14% 71 15
Democrat 36% 51 13
Republican 15% 76 10
Independent 29% 58 13
Have gay friend/family 39% 49 12
No gay friend/family 15% 74 11
26-27 Jun 96   22% 65 13

2. Would you favor or oppose passing a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman?

Favor Oppose (Not sure)
All 58% 34 8
Female 54% 38 8
Male 62% 30 8
Age 18-34 46% 50 4
35-50 61% 32 7
51-59 51% 43 6
60-70 68% 27 5
Over 70 63% 22 15
Democrat 48% 44 8
Republican 69% 25 6
Independent 54% 37 9
Have gay friend/family 47% 48 5
No gay friend/family 68% 24 9

3. – 4. Do you favor or oppose: Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly as priests, ministers or rabbis?

Favor Oppose (Not sure)
All 33% 56 11
Female 38% 50 12
Male 27% 63 10
Age 18-34 41% 52 7
35-50 32% 57 11
51-59 39% 52 9
60-70 33% 57 10
Over 70 20% 60 21
Democrat 43% 46 12
Republican 22% 67 11
Independent 38% 55 7
Have gay friend/family 46% 45 9
No gay friend/family 22% 66 12

Allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military?

  Favor Oppose (Not sure)
12-13 Aug 03     All 64% 25 11
Female 69% 20 11
Male 58% 30 12
Age 18-34 77% 16 7
35-50 64% 25 11
51-59 69% 27 4
60-70 57% 31 12
Over 70 51% 25 24
Democrat 71% 20 9
Republican 55% 31 13
Independent 69% 23 9
Have gay friend/family 77% 17 6
No gay friend/family 53%  31   16
12-13 Jan 00   57% 30 13

5. Do you think organizations should screen out gay and lesbian adults from serving in jobs that allow them to be alone with children, such as scout troop leader or teacher?

Yes No (Not sure)
All 34% 54 12
Female 30% 59 11
Male 38% 50 12
Age 18-34 28% 70 2
35-50 31% 56 13
51-59 33% 58 10
60-70 44% 44 12
Over 70 35% 42 23
Democrat 28% 59 13
Republican 39% 50 11
Independent 33% 59 8
Have gay friend/family 23% 68 9
No gay friend/family 42% 46 12
Moms 31% 60 9
Dads 38% 53 9