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. Ben

    Why don't we drop the crap and quit talking parties. This is about individual rights that are being blocked by the Healthcare Lobby. Who really cares if someone is gay or straight? Does it really matter? Let's focus on putting everybody on an even keel instead of trying to blame either party?

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

    It's a good step for equal rights and I am wholly thankful for it. But still, one can't help but quietly note that for some, it takes discovering a loved one's suffering before they realize how their harsh judgment and actions affect the loved ones of others. In all their preachings, what ever happened to "love thy neighbor?"

    March 25, 2013 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  3. James Ingram

    Blood is thicker than theology !!!

    March 25, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  4. Chris

    There is no effect...it's called education, empathy, and understanding. The more educated and exposed to other lifestyles...the more tolerant one can be. Anyone that argues against another persons rights(reguardless of race, creed, or color) is a bigot, but more importantly...doesn't care about the freedom of others. As long as they are ok, they don't care.

    March 25, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  5. freethinker

    What is a "gay agenda"? Well, I suppose its the same as a women's rights "agenda", a "black rights" "agenda", a worker's rights "agenda".....its a HUMAN RIGHTS agenda folks!!! No difference! How any woman or African american can support the GOP that is so anti human rights is beyond me. You don't CHOOSE to be woman, or black, or hispanic, or gay, or a red head, or left handed!!!!! When will the GOP start getting a handle on reality? Or are they too stuck in their religious, magical thinking "agenda".

    March 25, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Donna

    Maybe a poll taken in NY or Mass supports gay marriage but certainly not one taken in other states. If the American people across the country supported it, it would not be voted down in 30 states, INCLUDING liberal California! And for that, the gays and lesbians can thank Obama and the large black vote that turned out in 2008. Black people are OVERWHELMINGLY AGAINST gay marriage. Funny how that never makes it into the "news" huh? Wake up America, you are being manipulaed by the leftist lame street media.

    March 25, 2013 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  7. It matters to God

    Rather b the dinosaur in the cave protected by God.man/woman union only.

    March 25, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. Boo

    Why do some people in this country insist on telling others who to marry and how to live?

    March 25, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  9. nilla

    Codestud3, looks like you're no different from "us liberals".

    March 25, 2013 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  10. Sokman

    Well said Mike. As a conservative, I must say that was the most decent thing I've seen come out of a non-Republicans mouth on these blogs

    March 25, 2013 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  11. buckybadger

    It isn't any different than almost anything when society progresses. In the 60s people hated black people but then they left their sheltered life and either joined the army, went to college or to a city and made some friends with black people and found out their hatred was unfounded and the things taught to them by their sheltered up bringing simply wasn't true. Too bad we have to go through the same process every time but humans are slow to learn.

    March 25, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  12. Susan

    SO I guess in other words: Anyone who doesn't support it is going to get left behind. Should be fun for businesses required to cover spouses, social security survivor benefits, and pensions.

    March 25, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  13. Abbot

    Haha!! I love to see the lib trolls stating that the GOB is dead. 30 out of 20 States have a GOP governor. GOP was in the WH for 20 years since 1980 VS 16 Years for democrats.
    Obama is doing everything in his power to make the republicans control the senate in 2014.

    March 25, 2013 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  14. Jim in PA

    The "Portman Effect" is similar to the "Medicare Effect" and the "Social Security Effect", where older Republicans demand that the government slash every program in the world except the ones that benefit them. A more common word for this phenomenon is "hypocrisy."

    March 25, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  15. angeson

    After taking inventory the GOP realized most of it's offspring are gay.

    March 25, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  16. Kevin

    Judging from the GOP hatred in some posts, some liberals are terrified of the possibility of having conservatives coming to agree with them about something. Is your ideology dependent on being able to hate the other side on every issue? So even if someone agrees with you, then you have to twist things to make another reason to blindly hate? It's not good for you to be so angry about everything. Try yoga or something...calm down.
    I think it is great to finally see this evolution of thinking on the issue from the republican side. It is likely to be slow, but it is happening.

    March 25, 2013 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  17. kevin

    I care and many others care. We especially care when they parade themselves and push their perverted .lifestyle. God destroyed Sodom for such things. Many in the US have gone the way of Sodom and then cry out "God Bless America."

    March 25, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  18. Norman Cleud

    Why not give them medical treatment and make them straight? Is it not simple enough to understand that these people are sick and needs help?

    March 25, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  19. Mrs. Graham

    Yeah, CNN, of course more Americans think it is okay. That is because you and your other liberal media buddies spend 24 hours a day cramming it down the nation's throats – the same way you convince the sheeple that Republicans=bad and evil while Democrats=wonderful, beautiful, kind, smart and desirable. It is absolutely sickening the way your promote your ridiculous agenda, while meanwhile those donkeys your liberal drones elected sit in Washington fiddling while our country burns. Funny thing about liberals – they are only liberal in their own agenda; if you think differently than they do then you are a bigot, prejudiced, and an uneducated fool. How very "liberal" of them!

    March 25, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  20. are122

    Wow, GNN (Gay News Network) is out doing itself today! Two more stories about gays...added to the three this morning. Wonder how many guys are on staff to write all these.

    March 25, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  21. bill ball

    do i believe this poll from a mostly gay organization no no more that i believe Fox news does not slant there polls as well

    March 25, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. reader10

    How many gay people are working for CNN.
    They are realy pushing for gay marriage and writing stories about gay people every day.

    March 25, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. Man and woman

    Marriage is for a man and a woman ! ! Period. Dont change that.

    March 25, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  24. rizzo

    most americans voted for Romney ,,, votes mean nothing

    March 25, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  25. Zenger Folkman

    I think we are past the tipping pioint. Now all those conservative cowards who refused to acknowledge the gay members of their families will come ot and say they favor gay marriage since the majority of Americans now think so. Oh well, it's all gravy, even the johnny-come-lately what's-everyone else-think cowards. as for Portman, he's among the worst. He was opposed until his own son comes out. Now he "understands" the issue. Before his son came out it was easy for him to deny rights to "those people".

    March 25, 2013 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
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