Majority Opposes Same-Sex Marriage

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Despite this week’s lifting of the same-sex marriage ban in Massachusetts, a majority of Americans continues to oppose same-sex marriage, and nearly half oppose civil unions.

According to a FOX News poll conducted in the days following the Supreme Judicial Court ruling in Massachusetts, 66 percent of Americans oppose and 25 percent favor same-sex marriage. These new results are similar to those from August 2003, as well as results from 1996, when 65 percent of the public said they opposed allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Opinion Dynamics Corporation (search ) conducted the national poll Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, November 18 and 19.

Tuesday’s ruling said it was illegal under the Massachusetts Constitution to block gay couples from the "protections, benefits, and obligations of civil marriage solely because that person would marry a person of the same sex."

Fully 80 percent of Republicans oppose same-sex marriage, as do 66 percent of independents and 55 percent of Democrats. More men than women oppose allowing gays to marry (72 percent and 62 percent respectively), and seniors are more likely than young adults to oppose same-sex marriage (80 percent versus 54 percent).

Americans are more supportive on the issue of allowing gay and lesbian couples to form "civil unions that are not marriages." Today, 41 percent support and 48 percent oppose civil unions. These new poll results show a small increase in opposition to civil unions — two months ago 46 percent supported and 44 percent opposed (September 2003).

"It is interesting to note that a few years ago 'civil unions' were regarded as wildly controversial in states like Vermont," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman (search). "Now the whole country is just about evenly divided on that notion, since they see it as an alternative to full marriage. Given the age patterns in the data, it is hard to see how some form of union won't be the national norm in the future."

Similar to the issue of same-sex marriages, Americans under age 30 are more accepting of civil unions (58 percent). Majorities of Democrats (53 percent) and those living in the Northeast (56 percent) also support allowing homosexual couples to form civil unions.

Polling was conducted by telephone November 18-19, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.

1. Do you support or oppose allowing homosexual couples to form civil unions that are not marriages, but would give gay couples rights such as inheritance, insurance and hospital visiting privileges?

2. Today/Yesterday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of gay marriage in that state. Do you favor or oppose same-sex marriage?

*Wording: "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?"