March 25th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
2 years 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. AlabamaJoe

    The Republicans need to grow a spine. What if you have a bank robber in your family, that does mean bank robbery is not a crime anymore? Just because a deviant exists in your family that does not mean you have to accept it

    March 25, 2013 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  2. sf

    so now that HE has a gay son, we're supposed to bow to him and it's now "OK"...how about all those years he's caused so much grief to those gay people who wanted to be married and he's stood in the way? funny how republicans are always "do as i say and not as i do"...i'm sick of it!

    March 25, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  3. John M.

    A loving family living together is exactly the values I want my kids to see.

    March 25, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  4. true

    like sodoma and gomorra, Jesus is comming soon!

    March 25, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. jeffrow

    how can two men and woman have real baby god help you all

    March 25, 2013 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  6. yiptrieu

    Shouldn't those politicians themselves has their own conviction? Their daughter's friend and son or daughter's friend is gay/lesbian should not be the reason to alter their own view or believe.

    March 25, 2013 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. Middle Aged Gay

    @AlabamaJoe How about you make a deal with the Republicans...if they grow a spine, you'll grow a brain?

    March 25, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Sarah

    Please, GOP and liberals alike, learn how to properly punctuate, capitalize and spell. I cannot take it anymore! I do notice it more coming from the anti-gay crowd. Marriage, man and woman are words that do not require capitalization in the context of this discussion. If you want folks to harken to your argument, demonstrating you know how to read and write the language you insist everyone in the nation should use would be a big step. Enuf is not a word. Indeed, I have had enuf!

    March 25, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  9. jungleboo

    Oh, Alabama Joe, you have a lot to learn. Try going to a University, even if only for a drink at the local tavern. Have a conversation with someone and wake up already.

    March 25, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  10. letanya harris

    i feel that as long as 2people love each other,it should not matter

    March 25, 2013 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  11. GGarcia

    This is a human rights issue.

    March 25, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. radgast

    That's nice that he sees that equality as a broad based concept, but if he son wasn't gay they would not be equal from his perspective.

    March 25, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. Ted

    The hate in some of these posts is very disheartening to me. I can only imagine that is because of the safety of people not knowing who there are behind the keyboard. Who cares who marries who, and even if you are religious we all do no not believe in your god so you should have no right to turn your beliefs into laws

    March 25, 2013 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  14. Anonymous

    The formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.

    March 25, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Just Me

    I could care less IF I had a family member who is gay, I still won't support gay marriage as God clearly has define what marriage is all about. But if you want to ignore it, so be it, the decision in letting married is in your hands, just like the people who wanted Jesus to be crucified said, let it be in our hands.

    March 25, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  16. KP

    Was I the only one who thought that the "Portman Effect" was Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis together in The Black Swan? If I hadn't already supported gay rights, that scene would have converted me ;)

    March 25, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  17. MaryM

    Portman is a typical repub that denies equal rights to All Americans until it affects his family.

    March 25, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. tapandclick

    The majority may tolerate gay behavior but there is a big difference between tolerance and acceptance...

    March 25, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. H

    The formal union of a man and a woman, typically recognized by law, by which they become husband and wife.

    March 25, 2013 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. KurtAZ

    The Government should not be involved in "Marriage". Re-Define all joinings of 2 people as "Civil Unions" and leave "Marriage to the churches. It is not up to the Government to decide morality but legality. Why should two people who love each other not enjoy the same rights and privileges as some other couple under the law? This is not up to me to judge. And there are plenty of Churches that are gay friendly and will perform Marriages. This is a stupid debate.

    March 25, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  21. Tom

    @jeffrow. Maybe we don't WANT a baby, jeffrow!!!

    March 25, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  22. Mike

    It is amazing to see the amount of hate and prejudice against gay/LGBT individuals. I have been married 30 years, have 4 kids and in no way can marriage equality threaten aspect of my life. In fact, denying marriage equality is a much bigger injustice. Go back to your bibles, learn tolerance, and shut up!

    March 25, 2013 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Obmer joe the dems to grow a spine and get their faxes straight

    March 25, 2013 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  24. Kirk Jones

    Hopefully soon, polygamy will become legal.

    March 26, 2013 07:39 am at 7:39 am |
  25. Garry

    It is simply amazing to see the hate,prejudice, and downright ignorant comments posted on here by some of you. This is NOT a religious matter, so stop with all the damn talk about God and what he would think, he would take one look at some of you and shake his head in disappointment and disbelief at the way in which you think. If you choose to use the Bible as what you believe is right and worn you are sadly mistaken if you think God approves of picking and choosing WHICH commandments you chose to follow. Leave the Bible and religious viewpoints out of it, grow up and realize this is not the 50's....stupidity and ignorance do not a good Christian make...geez....fair is fair..and now maybe my partner of 36 years and I can actually get married....

    March 26, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
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