March 25th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
1 year ago

CNN Poll: 'Rob Portman effect' fuels support for same-sex marriage

Washington (CNN) – One day before the Supreme Court hears a high profile case on same-sex marriage, a new national poll indicates that the percentage of Americans who say they have a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian is on the rise. And that increase matches a jump in the percent of the public who support legal same-sex marriages.

According to a CNN/ORC International survey, 57% say they have a family member or close friend who is gay or lesbian, up 12 points from 2007.

"The number of Americans who support same-sex marriage has risen by almost the same amount in that time - from 40% in 2007 to 53% today - strongly suggesting that the rise in support for gay marriage is due in part to the rising number of Americans who have become aware that someone close to them is gay," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

"Some people have recently taken to calling it the 'Rob Portman effect,' after the Republican senator from Ohio who learned that his son is gay and changed his position on gay marriage as a result," adds Holland.

Portman made his announcement recently in an exclusive television interview with CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

The survey's Monday release comes a day before the Supreme Court hears a challenge to California's Proposition 8. On Wednesday, the justices will hear a challenge to the federal government's Defense of Marriage Act. Both measures define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

According to the poll, people who say they know someone who is gay or lesbian are more likely to be younger and more likely to have attended college, with women more likely to say that than men. And not surprisingly, support for gay marriage is highest among women, college educated Americans, and the young.

"Attitudes toward homosexuality are the result of many complex, interrelated factors. Past polling, for example, has also shown that support for gay marriage has risen during a time when a growing number of Americans believe that homosexuality is something a person is born with. But years of polling suggests that the growing number of Americans who know someone who is gay has contributed to an environment in which gay marriage now receives support from a majority of Americans," says Holland.

The new poll was conducted March 15-17 for CNN by ORC International, with 1,021 adult Americans questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points.

- CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.

soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    "Obama expects debate on immigration reform bill next month"

    GOP/Teatrolls respond with blood oath to delay it until at least May, just to thwart him.

    March 25, 2013 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  2. rs

    Once again, reality plays a hand- and the GOP loses even more support.

    March 25, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. DENNA

    Little-by-little, piece-by-piece, the Republicans are getting dragged into the 21st century. The last few elections have given them a cold hard slap in the face. Either get with the program or declare yourselves dinosaurs and crawl off to some distant cave. Heck, I understand that Justice Roberts has a lesbian cousin. Wonder how he will vote on the gay marriage ban?

    March 25, 2013 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Bryan

    Now I wonder what the % is in blue states vs red....

    If we could drop the southern half of the country, I am sure that number would be much higher.

    March 25, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  5. Robo

    Bogus. I don't believe those numbers. Why should we believe this? A liberal media outlet supporting a liberal minority agenda, WOW. I'm shocked!!! Pull my other leg, it plays jingle-bells.

    March 25, 2013 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. Big_D

    The GOP should just ride off into the sunset. It would be a happy ending for everyone, as long as they never come back.

    March 25, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. CG

    Maybe I'm cynical, but, you know, there are so many more urgent matters in this world than gay rights. Let's just give it to them and be over with it. Let's fix the environment, the economy, our health. People, stop being so judgemental. Let people be. Gay, Straight, it don't matter.

    March 25, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  8. jonnyg

    Ever notice that CNN conducts it's own polls which favors Democrats 2 to 1 and then proclaims that "Americans" agree with whatever their agenda item of the day is. For the past 18 days it's been 100% pro gay. Obviously they want to influence the Supreme Court with the liberal bias

    March 25, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  9. See Enn Enn

    What percentage of CNN is gay & has a gay agenda?

    March 25, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    came here thinking natalie, stopped reading immediately

    March 25, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  11. jerry Jonesson

    I've never met a gay person. Maybe that's why I don't mind if they get married.

    March 25, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. Why

    Why is this "breaking news"? I can understand a plane crash, a bombing, a war breaks out...but really...a poll result? Wow. Shocking.

    March 25, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. jamie

    suck it brian brown and nom!

    March 25, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. Kyle

    I have a friend that's a bi-gendered schizophrenic, but that shouldnt be the measure of american support for the LGBT community, the measure of support should be just that, "SUPPORT", not "Oh I have a friend thats gay, that means its ok"

    March 25, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Buckshotdaman

    IIt's interesting how the GOP will do or say ANYTHING for a vote. Exactly how do they think they're going to gain traction with the gay and lesbian community? They plan to give them larger GIFTS than the Obama administration. The GIFTS are the very thing they stood so strongly against. What hypocrites!

    March 25, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  16. likeIsaid

    Bunch of dirty rotten bandwagoners. Sure, stranger's don't need equal rights, but my kid sure does!! Self important, ego-centric jerks! I don't care if you're a dem or GoP, it's UNFAIR and CRUEL!

    March 25, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. Carrie

    RS no GOP are learning from the Democrats it is where the vote is!!! They will be changing their tunes about a lot more things just wait.

    March 25, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  18. MyOpinion4You

    Once again, MY VOTE was NOT solicited – or counted in any way. When will they poll the entire American population, instead of select groups that vote the same way EVERY TIME? How do we verify the validity of these polls? Do all of you feel like your opinion was counted?

    March 25, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  19. Mike

    Nice to see republicans are waking up! Good for them. im not a fan of republicans but if they can change views on this I can change my views on them and nice to see everyone starting to agree on something instead of always being negative! Cheers and congrats!

    March 25, 2013 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. DENNA

    @ – Robo – Bogus. I don't believe those numbers. Why should we believe this? A liberal media outlet supporting a liberal minority agenda, WOW. I'm shocked!!! Pull my other leg, it plays jingle-bells
    ---------------------------------------------------------–
    Liberal media, blah, blah, blah. If the media didn't keep us updated, Mitt Romney would be president. Oh, wait. I am guessing that's still sticking in your craw, right? America will probably cycle hard right again in the future. Don't worry, kicking puppies and slapping babies and starving the poor will be all the rage again. Fox "News" will be relevant again and rehire Sarah Palin. (shudder)

    March 25, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  21. Lisa

    There's got to be a better way to deal with this than having the government rule marriage. Marriage shouldn't be political, people should be able to identify their significant other to gain all the tax benefits and deal with the family issues for court whether you're gay, straight or polygamous.

    March 25, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  22. DKDS

    Let gay/Lesbians do what ever they think in convenient for them. But please do not change the definition of a marriage – it is between a Man and a Woman. No body has the right to do that.

    March 25, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  23. CA Dude

    Funny how they NEVER publish the questions they asked. Is it because we can make statistics say anything we want if the questions are asked in manner to produce a specific result?

    March 25, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  24. Codestud3

    I thought ou liberals didn't like polls. I guess only when they fit your narrative.

    March 25, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  25. m68123

    So why should feds get involved in marriage?
    That's how you come up with dumb laws like DOMA

    March 25, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
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