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. Carolyn Jones - Hawthorne, CA

    Quayle you are delusional along with the rest of the bigots of the GOP; you will never be able to succeed the measures done by the Obama Administration – get over it....

    August 11, 2010 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  2. greg

    Government out of our lives!!! Oh yeah, except please, pelase, please keep gays from marrying b/c that doesn't seem right to me.

    August 11, 2010 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  3. Donkey Party

    Nothing but a wedge issue. Ask yourself this simple question, what harm will gay marriage have on you?

    August 11, 2010 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  4. michael

    another useless poll, what does it matter if they support it or not. Since when does what people want trump the constitution. You cannot deny people's rights because you do not like them. Americans need to get over themselves!

    August 11, 2010 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  5. malabar

    Gay latino voting republican. why? bcuz gay fetuses have a right to be born and discriminated against too. besides, whats the point of gaining the right to marry when all other freedoms are being taken away by dems? the majority of voters will vote FOR gay marriage very soon. i refuse to behave like a feminazi and vote for 1 party bcuz of 1 issue. 2 much 2 lose compared to what u may gain. besides, dems just call u a fag behind ur back and break every promise

    August 11, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  6. A True Centrist

    I'm not sure I believe the results of this poll. Everytime gay marriage appears on a ballot, it gets voted down. That includes the most liberal of states like Massachusetts, California, Oregon and Washington. I think people like to talk the talk but when it's time to stand up for people's rights, they don't walk the's a shame.

    August 11, 2010 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  7. Liz the First

    People don't need to be voting on other people's rights! other people's rights don't need to be at the whim of the general public. remember slavery! that was pretty popular. was it right? some people just are gay. a large percentage of the population doesn't realize people are born gay. there is plenty of scientific evidence that proves this. people don't choose to have a bigger structure in their brain than someone else. they can't choose to have different reaction times or to respond differently to pheromones. homosexuality is a found in nature in roughly the same percentage as in people. this has been known for a long time. folks who hate don't want to listen to facts or reason that would negate their hate. banning gays from marrying the person they love makes about as much sense as banning left-handed scissors! it's time to end this bigotry once and for all.

    August 11, 2010 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  8. anagram_kid

    For many, the constitution is just like the bible. You don't have to read or understand it, you just have to thump it a lot and say you believe in it. So what if some parts actually contradict your actual beliefs and behaviors. These folks are lucky to live in a country where there is no longer a steep downside to being willfully ignorant.

    August 11, 2010 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  9. CherylS

    It wasn't all that long ago that blacks and whites weren't permitted to marry either. It's all nonsense. If a person wants to marry another person, why should anyone else have a say?

    August 11, 2010 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. Ken in Pisgah Forest

    I think it is unconstitutional to descriminate, and so the current Constitution should suffice.

    August 11, 2010 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  11. Fair is Fair

    Not a big fan of gay anything... however, a non-judgemental interpretation of the Constitution lends me to believe it's already in there... and when it goes to the SCOTUS, which it most definitely will, it will more than likely be affirmed.

    August 11, 2010 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  12. John

    Opinions don't matter. The Constitution matters.

    August 11, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  13. Bertina

    If the Republicans are all about what the majority want then they should follow this.

    August 11, 2010 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  14. jake1969

    Just another example about how the Republican "freedom" chant is bogus. The only real freedoms they support are owning AK-47's, polluting, and paying low taxes. They are pro-Drug War (which has infringed on scores of freedoms, especially search and seizure), anti-Gay Marriage (how is not allowing someone to do something they want to do freedom?), anti-choice, anti-euthanasia, etc.

    I've always found it ironic that a hardcore conservative will support one's right to own an assault weapon, shoot up animals, pollute and get drunk and stupid...but I can't smoke a plant and mellow out. I'm sorry, that's NOT freedom.

    August 11, 2010 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  15. Gale

    Let's see, where were your polls taken? The village of New York City, San Francisco, Laguna Beach, CA. Don't the rest of the United States count. Just because we don't live in a big city or overpopulated state, we don't count? We Christians don't count? What Bibles do these people read that says it is O.K. to be an abomination? Especially those that want to be leaders of a church. Are we supposed to throw out all of the words of the Bible for over thousands of years because perversion is accepted now?

    August 11, 2010 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  16. Take America Back: from Texas

    Bring it to a vote.....let's offer an amendment to the Constitution that gives voters a say on what describes a marriage.......I will guarntee the "gay" ones will be sadly disapointed!

    August 11, 2010 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  17. Allison

    It's interesting that there's a poll, but no poll dictates a person's fundamental rights. Nor should we allow voting on fundamental rights, regardless of whether a majority of people over age 50 support it.

    The founding fathers were not infallible. Look, they didn't even allow women to vote, they allowed slavery to exist and only counted blacks as three-fifths of a person. All of these things sound ludicrous to a modern ear.

    20 years from now we will all be amazed that there was such a furor over allowing same-sex couples the equality of access to civil marriage.

    August 11, 2010 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  18. tweety

    Ya, because the hetro's have been doing such a great job of staying married in this country.
    Its funny how the hetro's take married life sooooo seriously when it comes to gay folks. Too funny, there is a 50/50 chance of a divorce, period. This is true for gay couples too I'm sure.
    But.... yet..... these die hards want to make sure it stays so pure by it being a man and woman married? Stupid, and more stupid.

    Equal rights people. In this day and age I'm shocked we still have to have this debate. Gay folks just appeared, poof, here they are all of a sudden, please we ALL have the gay family member, so, leave them alone already!

    If you don't want hairy man azz in your face, then don't! But... to tell someone else HOW to love and live is just wrong. Seriously did they just catch the gay bug off a shopping cart? Wake up!

    Oh, and before ya'll attempt to bash me, I'm married 23 years and I'm only 42, been married since I was 19, I bet MANY of you can't even come close. Oh, and we are happy to boot, I just wish this could be the case for all the married people in this country! Gays included.

    I'm done venting now.

    August 11, 2010 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  19. Henry Miller, Libertarian

    The Constitution says not one single word about marriage and that, as far as federal law is concerned, establishes that everyone has a "right" to marry anyone they choose.

    On the other hand, the silence of the Constitution means that the states are permitted to make any laws they please regarding marriage.

    August 11, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  20. David

    With these survey break downs, sex, age, race; I would like to see education level. No college, some college, 4 year degree, above four year degree. I'm betting most have some high school. Just a theory.

    August 11, 2010 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "Americans split evenly on gay marriage"

    Too bad it doesn't really matter. Polling for the statistical breakdown of public opinion on Constitutional issues should be an example under the word "irrelevant" in the dictionary.

    August 11, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. Big George in Big D

    Where did so many "gays" come from? My goodness, sure glad I wasn't afflicted with the syndrome! God intended Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!

    August 11, 2010 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Peter s

    A contract made in due form of law, by which a free MAN and a free WOMAN reciprocally engage to live with each other during their joint lives, in the union which ought io exist between husband and wife. By the terms freeman and freewoman in this definition are meant, not only that they are free and not slaves, but also that they are clear of all bars to a lawful marriage.

    To make a valid marriage, the parties must be willing to contract, able to contract, and have actually contracted.They must be willing to contract. Those persons, therefore, who have no legal capacity in point of intellect, to make a contract, cannot legally marry, as idiots, lunatics, and infants; males under the age of fourteen, and females under the age of twelve; and when minors over those ages marry, they must have the consent of their parents or guardians. There is no will when the person is mistaken in the party whom he intended to marry; as, if Peter intending to marry Maria, through error or mistake of person, in fact marries Eliza; but an error in the fortune, as if a man marries a woman whom he believes to be rich, and he finds her to be poor; or in the quality, as if he marries a woman whom he took to be chaste, and whom he finds of an opposite character, this does not invalidate the marriage, because in these cases the error is only of some quality or accident, and not in the person.When the marriage is obtained by force or fraud, it is clear that there is no consent; it is, therefore, void ab initio, and may be treated as null by every court in which its validity may incidentally be called in question.

    August 11, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  24. Not Bending On This One

    Being a lawyer does not qualify someone to speak on the "constitutionality" of marriage but I imagine that the "equal protection under the law" provisions of the Constitution are what are used to lead people to conclude that gays have the "RIGHT" to marry.

    I don't agree. Marriage is a religious-originated, a religious-based social development designed to protect women from men who would impregnate them and as many other females as they could. Marriage is not a government sponsored institution.

    Where gay people make their mistake is to intrude on the religious sacrament of Marriage. They can demand the right to lower car insurance, joint tax filings, and hospital visitation and most Americans will back them. When they INSIST on being "MARRIED", they tread on religious ground and religions don't have to sanction GAY nuptials.

    August 11, 2010 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Sensible Cape Coral FL

    So much for World Peace! What a bunch of narrow minded people we have become.

    August 11, 2010 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
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