October 9th, 2009
12:34 PM ET
10 years ago

Poll: Americans support civil unions, oppose same-sex marriage

A majority of Americans continue to back civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

A majority of Americans continue to back civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A majority of Americans continue to back civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, but oppose legalizing same-sex marriages, according to a new national poll.

The Pew Research Center survey's Friday release comes on the eve of President Barack Obama's speech in front of gay rights advocates at the Human Rights Campaign banquet in the nation's capital. The following day, same-sex activists plan to march on the Mall in Washington.

According to the poll, 57 percent of people questioned support civil unions, a slight uptick, with 37 percent opposed. The survey suggests that 53 percent oppose legalizing same sex marriage, with 39 percent in favor, basically unchanged from a year ago.

The poll indicates that more than six in 10 say say gays and lesbians face a lot of discrimination, more than any other group asked about in the survey.


Exit polls from last November's presidential election suggest that gay, lesbian and bisexual voters overwhelming backed Obama. Many of them had high expectations that Obama would bring results for them on gay rights issues once he entered the White House, and some are now growing impatient with the slow pace of change.

The Pew Research Center poll was conducted in August, with 4,013 people questioned by telephone. The survey's sampling error is plus or minus 2 percentage points.


Filed under: Same-sex marriage
soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. A Real American

    Seperate but equal

    Same as what the majority of Americans thought during the civils rights movement. But as the courts point out the fact that there is a "seperate" means there can be no "equal".

    Looks like the majorority of Americans got it wrong again when it come to civil rights....but sooner or later the biggots will die off.

    October 9, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  2. Peter

    Who cares whether you marry a goat , a dog ,or a man ? just dont call it marriage because its not and will neve or be!!

    October 9, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  3. Grahame

    Oh Yeh! What about equal rights under the constitution.?
    how can anybody legislate against love?
    The Lord God of all creation who made the heavens and everything in it wants the sacrine adoration of his creatures and if he doesn't get it turns petulant and angry. This is the mind set of the people who oppose same sex marrage. They, along with the Republicans, will soon all die away thank God then we can have some sanity in this world.

    October 9, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Bob in Pa

    A reasonable view.

    You want to play house, go ahead.

    You want to leave your belongings to someone without penalty, go ahaead (that should go for anyone, not just partners. Your property has already been earned, taxed and paid for, the government doesn't deserve a penny.)

    Don't try to force anyone to accept your lifestyle. It is already proven that you can't legislate morality. Murder is illeagal, but that doen't stop some people.

    October 9, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  5. Angry Vet

    I suggest the government get out of the marriage business altogether. The government should certify civil unions for legal purposes only and leave the issue of marriage to religious organizations. This ends the whole issue.

    October 9, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  6. Jack Fl

    Homosexuality? Just don't let them have children. Can we tax it? I think this homosexual issue sucks.

    October 9, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  7. Reagan was wrong

    A man marrying another man in Massachusetts would have ZERO IMPACT on Clem and Billy Bob's ability to go out beer-drinkin' , truck-drivin' and deer-shootin ' in the Appalachian backwoods.

    October 9, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  8. John Y IL

    This isn't about homosexuals wanting equal rights. This is about homosexuals demanding to be accepted and that is something you cannot demand of another. Being accepted by society is not a right.

    I am 100% in favor of civil unions for everyone of any persuasion and 100% against homosexual marriage. Marriage is a religeous ceremony performed between one man and one woman. Marriage became more than that in the eyes of Government many years ago in terms of "marriage rights" that mirror "civil union rights". Simply provide those same rights to homosexuals that choose to join together in whatever way they choose named something other than marraige and this is a done deal backed by the majority of Americans. To try to force "gay" marriage is a loser from the start.

    October 9, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  9. Mike

    Oh the irony. Those who complain about government health care think it's ok for the government to decide who you can and can't marry.

    October 9, 2009 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  10. Taj

    A civil union is like a pig in lipstick. It follows the Jim Crow mentality of "separate but equal." If we are going to give gay and lesbian Americans their civil rights, we need to acknowledge their right to marry. We need to stop dehumanizing gays and stop protecting bigotry with unjust laws.

    October 9, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  11. Mark in Atlanta

    True civil unions that ensure all the rights andd responsibilities granted to married couples would be a good step forward. At the same time, as a straight, christian, once-married family man, I know the lunitic fringe bugabboos about "marriage" will fade in time. The list of "family values" hypocrats who oppose gay marriage but are, in their own personal lives, a greater affront to the dignity of marriage than any loving same-sex couple could be, is endless.

    October 9, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  12. Drew

    The government should stay out of marriage altogether, and only grant civil unions. This goes for both heterosexual and homosexual marriages.

    Let the government only grant civil unions, and have marriage be an entirely religious ceremony that is separate from the government.

    October 9, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  13. Jonathan

    Blerg Americans!

    October 9, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  14. D. Tree

    It only makes sense – its a matter of fair treatment under the law.

    Gay couples should not be denied legal protections that straight couples enjoy.

    The only people who disagree are the people on the far right, and their beliefs are outdated.

    October 9, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  15. Hilltop

    Obama loves homosexuals...that's why I'm voting for Sarah Palin next time!

    October 9, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  16. Nathan

    I do not support gay marriage, and I do support civil unions. But I also do not support hetero marriage as sanctioned by our government either. Marriage is a religious institution and should be left to religious doctrine. Civil unions for the sake of taxes and legal rights should be non-discriminatory.

    October 9, 2009 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  17. R.B.

    Who are they polling and how? If by online means, okay, but landlines are outmoded, usually you reach older people, as younger people have cells and are Internet mobile. Besides, polling doesn't matter in terms of justice. This is a fundamental right. You can't have 2 classes of citizens in a free nation.

    October 9, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  18. Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace

    It's time America.

    And kudos to Iowa and most of New England for supporting marriage.

    All summer long I officiated for couples who came to CT to wed from all across the country. Congrats to all.

    And let's not forget that marriage is firstly a civil matter in America, as marriage licenses are issued by and recorded in town halls not church halls or mosques or temples.

    Cheers, Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
    Washington, Connecticut, USA.

    And to the marriage police, please find something else to do with your time, because life's just to short.

    October 9, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  19. AWilliams

    Everyone should be equal, right???. Who are you or anyone else to say who we can and cant marry. i mean really. just because someone doesnt agree doesnt give them the right to take another human beings right to marry who they choose away.

    October 9, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  20. Allen

    It's not about equality. Republicans are all about keeping "others" unequal. It's about freedom. It's harder – though not impossible for these bottom-feeders – to defend the denial of freedom.

    October 9, 2009 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  21. Thore

    Straight or gay, love and comittment are the same.

    I remember when it was illegal for me to marry my wife because she was black. This too shall pass.

    October 9, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  22. Ain't life strange?

    This is really a 'step to the back of the bus' and 'we don't serve your kind here' issue. What difference would it make in anyone elses life if same sex marriage becomes a reality. You can't quote the bible because this isn't a spiritual issue. It's a social one. If you deny anyone's freedom then you put the entire concept of freedom at risk.

    October 9, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  23. andy

    I don't support alot of weird things. Child molest., beastality, of illegal drug use. What makes anyone think gay marriage is right?

    October 9, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  24. snood

    Lets just get to the real point here. its all about cash and doing the right thing and letting "spouses" be on tax forms and insurance policies. like life and health. call it what you want just give the credits they desire as a united couple.

    October 9, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  25. Boob McNutt Fan

    Um. I don't want gay people marrying because it will cheapen my marriage.

    Oh no wait, divorce did that. Or maybe it was the fact that we got hitched after 2 drunken nights in Vegas together.

    D@mn the gay community for spoiling my marriage...

    October 9, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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