August 11th, 2010
12:34 PM ET
13 years ago

Americans split evenly on gay marriage

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption ="Americans are split on the issue of same-sex marriage, according to a new CNN poll."](CNN) - Nearly half of all Americans think the Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll.

Forty-nine percent of respondents think gay and lesbian couples have the constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law, while 51 percent say those rights do not exist.

Full results [pdf]

The gap widens dramatically when age is taken into account. Nearly six in ten Americans under the age of 50 say gay rights are protected under the Constitution. Only 38 percent of Americans over the age of 50 say the same thing.

"This is one of the few instances when independents side with one party rather than falling in between the Dems and the GOP," CNN Polling Director Keating Holland said. "56 percent of Democrats and 57 percent of Independents think the Constitution conveys the right to marry to same-sex couples. Only a quarter of all Republicans agree."

In a separate question, some respondents were asked whether the Constitution should (rather than does) give gays and lesbians the right to marry.

"That's different than asking respondents what they think is currently in the Constitution," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

In that separate question, 52% said that same-sex couples should have the constitutional right to marry; 46% say the Constitution should not convey that right.

"It's possible that this is an indication that some Americans believe that the right to marry is not in the Constitution but would support an amendment to add it," Holland notes. "But taking into account the sampling error, there is no statistical difference between the 49 percent who think the Constitution already gives that right to gays and the 52 percent who think it should. So it's difficult to draw any conclusion beyond the basic finding that Americans are closely divided on this topic."

The questions asked in this poll have a range of sampling errors from plus/minus 4.5 to 8 percent.

Full results (pdf)

Filed under: CNN Polls • Polls • Same-sex marriage
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. glib lib

    Why does this not surprise, America is split on everything.

    August 11, 2010 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I think that this needs to be asked a different way. I would like to see what was said during the trial in California as well as national debate on this. This is where PBS and cable news shows could do a reasonably informed debate where people can present their perspective.

    August 11, 2010 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  3. Eric

    The judge noted that homosexuals are exactly the type of minority that the Constitution is designed to protect. Namely, that people don't "like them" but otherwise they are not doing anything wrong.

    August 11, 2010 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  4. Molly Weasley

    It's only a matter of time. The vast majority of young people are very accepting of gay rights.

    August 11, 2010 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. Walter Adams

    If the right wing conservative homophobes were really serious about preserving the sanctity of marriage, they'd be waging war against divorce. I don't see how two people of the same gender bonding together through a matrimonial union threatens my marriage at all.

    August 11, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  6. Obama=Trickle Up Poverty

    Let em get married, the divorce lawyers will never go out of business. Careful what you wish for, hope marriage is cracked up to be all that they expect.

    August 11, 2010 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  7. chris

    It is my belief everyone has the right to be miserable.

    August 11, 2010 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  8. Gary, Los Angeles

    There is no need for gay marriages. All of their arguments are bogus. EVERYONE (including straight and gay people) are protected by civil unions, which thereby eliminates every argument she have provided for getting married.

    Why do you think it's called "Alternative Lifestyle?"

    August 11, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  9. GJ

    Shows you how idiotic and short-term Republican politics are. Their favorite political punching bags: the gays, who will be more accepted as the old GOPers die off, and the latinos, whose share of the population will just keep getting bigger, will make Republicans a permanent minority party if they continue to reject change.

    August 11, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    Well, apparently Americans are also "split" on heterosexual know, seeing as how 50%+/- of them end in divorce anyway.

    August 11, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  11. dalis

    Look, there is no consensus in this country about the definition of "marriage", so I propose (and I'm not the only one) a solution that should satisfy everyone – even though it won't: the government needs to get out of the marriage business out of adherence of separation of church and state. All the couples in question – heteros3xual and homos3xual – will get civil unions, and "marriage" will then be religiously or personally determined. Basta.

    August 11, 2010 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    The 25% that approve marraige for gays are the party moderates I'm sure.
    The issue is so simple- "marraige" in its legal stance is allowed for all under our Constitution. "marraige" under religious rules is not and therefore churches would have the right to n t marry gay people.
    Many churches now do not marry mixed faiths, divorced people or other types of deviations from their teaching. Yet, those same couple under the laws of this country have the right to wed.
    Why all the fuss?

    August 11, 2010 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  13. Dave

    Wording of question does not address approval but thoughts about constitutionality. Need to get a better pollster.

    August 11, 2010 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
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