August 11th, 2010
12:34 PM ET
12 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. Ray

    Like father like son. In other words another moron wrapped inside an idiot.

    August 11, 2010 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  2. Djinn

    Funny how the loudest "defenders" of the Constitution seem to forget that it stands for equal rights for ALL. Your religious determinations DO NOT have squat to do with the gay right to marry. My wife and I strongly support EQUAL rights.

    August 11, 2010 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  3. markus

    moral of the story- next time some Conservative tries to use the "We're a center-right country" as an argument against gay marriage, I think this illustrates on what side independents fall.

    Independents usually lean Conservative on fiscal issues, but Liberal on social ones.

    Main reason I'm not a Republican-
    you have to hate taxes AND gay people...

    August 11, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  4. David

    I'm so glad the judge ruled against proposition 8. This is a prime reason why we have the judicial system. If the needs of the many always outweighed the needs of the few, we wouldn't be anywhere in society. Think of all the decisions judges made against the popular view in the history of our country. I guarantee you that 50 years from now we are all going to look back on the way we treated gay people as archaic.

    August 11, 2010 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  5. Victim of GOP Taliban

    Wow he we go again with endless debate over sexuality, religion and which side's wing-nut agenda is better than the other. Who cares. It should be nobody's business...certainly not the governments.

    August 11, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  6. Al-NY,NY

    No surprise that the "geezers" who side with the Grumpy Old Party don't like it while younger, more enlightned people wish to give people fundamental rights regardless of their sexual orientation

    August 11, 2010 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  7. CK in SD

    It doesn't matter what the American public think, it only matters what the constitution thinks of it.

    August 11, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  8. RkyMtnMan

    No question in my mind that he is the worst, and at one of the more pivotal times in our history. His majority in Congress is what is most damaging. We are going to be a socialist country before we can turn this around. Thus, Americans need to brace for some VERY trying and hard times ahead.

    August 11, 2010 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  9. A simple plea to CNN

    I agree with Obama on this one, marriage is and always will be ONE man and ONE woman and nothing else.

    My bad you libtards didn't know that, again the LSM not doing their jobs.........................

    But all attached rights that married folks get with Civil unions, as it is just about rights and not the redefining of a word is it?

    Obama get's a pass but a beautty queen got destroyed for speaking her mind.

    Yep, makes sense in libtard world.

    August 11, 2010 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  10. C Smith

    If the American public can decide this, I think we should decide other people's marriages too. If procreation is the reason for marriage, then 2 obese people should not be able to marry, because chances are their child will be obsese and have significant health problems. Low income people should probably not be allowed to marry as well because they may not be able to care for a child they bring into the world. Sound ridiculous? Of course it does.

    August 11, 2010 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  11. Ace Scanner

    Defense of Marriage Act – Version 2

    1. Because marriage is a sacred bond, you only get to do it once. For example, Newt Gingrich's second and third marriages, and the last 3 of Rush Limbough's, don't count. They can have a simple exchange of rings, or perhaps register as domestic partners, but no marriage.

    2. Because the purpose of marriage is to create a family, and the government has an interest in supporting families, no tax benefits, rights, privileges, or benefits shall be provided to married couples unless they are either expecting, or currently raising children. Any such benefits shall cease upon the death or emancipation of said children.

    3. Because the government should play no role in the internal affairs of any church, the term "civil marriage" shall apply to couples married at the courthouse. While churches may marry anyone deemed fit by their beliefs, a ceremony conducted by any church will not convey any of the legal benefits of a civil marriage.

    August 11, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  12. vic

    Republicans never understand the issues

    Two same sex people want to marry let them marry what they want is recognize the marriage do it

    August 11, 2010 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  13. K Parks

    The US Supreme Court in 1967 ruled that state laws that prohibited interracial marriages were invalid and in violation of the Constitution. In 1978, the US Supreme Court held that the right to marry was a fundamental right and that the states without good reason could not deny a marriage license. In 1987 The U.S. Supreme Court held that regulations prohibiting prisoners from getting married was unconstitutional because even prisoners, who have limited rights under the law, have the right to marry under the constitution.

    Obviously the Supreme Court has ruled time and time again that the right to marry, unless there is a good cause, is protected under the US Constitution. Being a homosexual is not a good cause therefore states will, in my opinion, loose their battle to prohibit marriage by homosexuals.

    August 11, 2010 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  14. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    This is just another example of why the baby boomers need to just die and get out of the way of progress. Have a nice day!

    August 11, 2010 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  15. Joe

    Shouldn't they be allowed to be as bored as the rest of us married folk?

    August 11, 2010 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  16. AmericanDoc

    Since cnn prematurely curtailed the comments on Quayle: YEAH!!! About time someone had the "cajones" to join Sarah Palin and say it like it is!! I LOVE my homestate of ARIZONA!!! We are the leaders in attempting to right the policies of this country and bring it back to its glory. I am SO PROUD of governer Brewer and now I'm interested in Ben Quayle. He may not be the best candidate for the job, I don't yet know, but at least he represents the opinion of most of Arizona and the United States. Sounds like he has a career ahead of him. And I'll tell you what isn't in the water in AZ... KOOL-AID! Not a damn drop in the wild west! By the way, since some like to take my lord's name in vain, let me return the favor. "Obama!", these liberals are soo in the wrong country!!

    August 11, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. JFK

    Its time to stop letting fear mongers control our nations dialogue on this matter. Many coutries have legalized gay marriage and it did not cause the end of the world for them. In reality, it will only create more stability within society when all people are treated equally. Its time to do the right thing so we can move on and stop wasting time on this. This will not lessen or demean any hetrosexual married couples love for one another. Its time we all act like adults and start showing our young people that the adults of this country can start practicing what they preach. Its time to fix bigger issues facing this country and stop the distractions on divisive issues like this. Legalize and lets move on!

    August 11, 2010 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  18. Steve

    Polls consistently understate opposition to same-sex marriage. Polls show that no more than 51% of California support gay marriage and do we honestly believe that 49% of Americans support gay marriage? Forget it. This is a poll that's intended to support Judge Gay Walker's recent unconstitutional ruling. Biased nonsense.

    August 11, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  19. cardog

    I could care less about who marrys who, but the problem I have is the process we now use to negate the will of the people. If I remember correctly, California voted twice on Prop 8 aganist gay marriage, yet a court can over-turn the will of the people???
    The same thing happened in Californai regarding insurance. The insurance companies did a process called red-lining,i.e. charging their customers based on the zip code they lived in ,not their driving record. When the people voted to put a stop to this practice, again the courts over-turned the vote and continued to allow the insurance crooks to charge their customers the way they wanted.

    August 11, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. NVa Native

    Old news, it's done.
    The old and self-righteous see this as an issue.
    But gotta love that it freaks out the bigots and it's always fun to see their heads spin with the mindless gibberish spewing forth.

    August 11, 2010 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. Montgomery

    As a Republican I could care less. I am just sick and tired of hearing the vocal minority (less than 1%) constantly whining. As long as we all have the right to distance ourselves from what we do and don't like and people are respectful in public it really doesn't matter.

    August 11, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  22. Duck Fallas

    Is there anything more gay than a wedding? The clothes, the music, the decor, the dancing, the food, the crying. All pretty gay.

    August 11, 2010 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  23. The Time Has Come

    Now when there is a clear majority favoring gay marriage the bigots will suddenly change their stance from the majority rules and be all for some court ruling against it regardless. Bottom line is that everyone pays the same tax to the government and everyone should be afforded the same benefits, period! If your religion is against it then don't do it but the government should not be guided by any religion just fairness.

    August 11, 2010 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  24. aneanderthal

    Once again Fox News beats CNN on the breaking news front. Rostenkowski dead. CNN does not hav it yet. People should check Fox for the real news, read CNN to find out what the libs think is important and then ignore the libs.

    August 11, 2010 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  25. john316

    If only the shoe were on the other foot for those against same sex marriage....would love to see their response then......I'm sure they would be outraged and going to court to have their rights protected.....or would they let some "other" group deny them......

    August 11, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
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