A new poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center finds growing support in the U.S. for allowing same-sex marriage, with as many Americans now favoring same-sex marriage as opposing it.
The Pew Research Center poll found 45 percent of adults now favor allowing gay marriage and 46 percent oppose it. Forty-five percent is the highest support Pew has found for allowing same-sex marriage since they began polling on the issue in 1996. As recently as April of 2009, Pew found only 35 percent of adults supported allowing gay marriage. Other surveys Pew conducted in 2008 and 2009 generally showed support for gay marriage in the 38-40 percent range.
Pew's report notes that support for marriage is divided geographically. Majorities in the Northeast and West support marriage rights, but only 40% in the Midwest and 34% in the South favor allowing it.
Other pollsters have found similar trends toward allowing same-sex marriage (results compiled by Pollingreport.com):
- CBS News asked a three-way question in August 2010, and found that 40% support allowing same-sex marriage, 30% support civil unions, and 25% do not support any legal recognition of gay marriage. Support for allowing gay marriage was up from 30% in 2008 and 22% since they began asking the question in 2004.
- An AP-National Constitution Center poll found that 52% of adults supported same-sex marriage, up from 46% in 2009. In addition, the poll found that 58% think couples of the same sex should be entitled to the same government benefits as opposite-sex couples.
- Fox News asked a three-way question in August of 2010 and found that 37 percent of registered voters supported legal marriage, 29 percent supported some other form of legal partnership, and 28 percent favored no legal recognition. Support for marriage was up from 33 percent in 2009 and from 20 percent since Fox began asking the question in 2004.
- A CNN poll in August 2010 found that 49 percent of adults thought gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to get married legally, up from 45 percent in 2009. In addition, 52 percent said they thought gays and lesbians should have that right under the Constitution.
- A Gallup poll in May of 2010 found that 44 percent said gay marriage should be legally recognized, up from 40 percent in 2008 and 2009, though one Gallup poll in 2007 found 46 percent of adults supported that measure.
While the level of support varies from pollster to pollster depending on the question wording and format, these results collectively show an unmistakable trend towards greater support for allowing same-sex marriage.