March 25th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
10 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.

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"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. Harvey

    Even though I find the gay life style totally revolting; I would be against any move to block their right to practice it. They have the right to pursue happiness in their own way and that should not be infringed.

    I also have the right to choose who I associate with, and I choose not to associate with those who are openly gay. One's sexual orientation is a private matter between partners. It is not something to shove in someone elses' face. Unfortunately I have gotten a fair amount of that from the gay community.

    March 26, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  2. Wake up People!

    I'm with Mike. I don't care who does what with whom. It's not my business. Also, being a black woman that has experienced countless acts of discrimination, there is no way I could turn around and do the same to others.

    As for all of you ignorant, non-spelling, non-punctuating Bible thumpers out there screaming hell and damnation, remember no one is without sin. The Bible says, he without sin, cast the first stone. Like a few others pointed out, you don't get to choose which commandments you follow.

    As for Portman, he is nothing but a lying hypocrite. If he was so proud of his gay son, why didn't we hear about this lovefest back then??? I do believe this is one of the reasons a Willard didn't choose him as a running mate.

    March 26, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  3. JustJosh

    @Just Me –

    You "could care less"? Then what's stopping you?

    Do you honestly believe this god of yours has "clearly defined what marriage is"?? If by "clearly", you mean: A man and 700 wives (1 Kings 11), a man and 18 wives (2 Chronicles 11:21), or a man and as many wives as he wants (Exodus 21:10)... then I agree.

    Clear as mud.

    March 26, 2013 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  4. queenbee10

    Portman is a hypocrite the problem with changing sides when it is convenient or when it personally affects your family is all the other time when actions hurt others for YEARS and there is no way to undo that damage. This is what is wrong with the GOP they are against EVERYTHING unless/until it impacts them personally–which means they really do think the world and this country should revolve around them and what they believe. heaven help the rest of us if our personal beliefs do not match theirs.

    March 26, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  5. copernicus

    Hey gang, there is only one reason to be married...and this is to have children...and the tax law gives a slight, very slight, advantage to those who have kids in an attempt to make ends meet by saving a little on taxes. I believe they all have the right to do what they want and live where they want, etc, but allowing gay folk to be married to save money on taxes makes no sense. To allow these other people the same advantages will drive the cost up for those who are keeping and nurturing our future citizens! All this noise about GALRIghts is a bunch of baloney, especially in the grand sense of things, but they sure make a lot of noise and have the politicians jumping up and down for the few votes they command. But heck, they can do this, they don't have kids at home to grow and nurture and school meetings to attend.

    March 26, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. After39Years

    Copernicus, you're comments are too factually incorrect to warrant a detailed response.

    March 26, 2013 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  7. Anonymous

    The liberal media seems enthralled with the "rising support" for gay marriage, especially among my cohort (age 18-30). However, many of my college-education, millenial friends, do not support gay marriage because they rightly see it as destructive to civilization. I wonder how accurate CNN's alleged figures are.

    March 26, 2013 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  8. Jeff

    What the "Portman effect" shows us is that an ounce of sympathy or empathy goes a long way. It demonstrates that if you step outside your comfort zone you will learn that people that are "different" aren't that scary. Its sad that with all the advances in communication and "flattening" of the world we still engage in the Us vs Them fallacy.

    March 26, 2013 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. jharwo

    Our country has become the most immoral in the world, listen to yourselves, dudes loving dudes and womem with women, how far down the toilet are going to go, we are turning into nothing but a perverted ces pool. Wake up america!

    March 26, 2013 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. Tyler

    Geez, those of you ripping on Sen. Portman are never satisfied, huh? I'd think that you'd be happy that he's "seen the light." I mean, he could have just kept his position the way it was and continued voting AGAINST legislation that YOU support. But then you would be complaining just as loudly as you are now.

    Some of you people are stupid.

    March 26, 2013 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  11. ray johnson

    So, to make things work, what we have to do is change the definition of a word and it all becomes ok? if thats the case lets just change the definition of murder, rape, stealing, just about anything that carries any kind of punishment. if we just change the definition of a word that'll make things right. I think not. if two consenting adult want to have a relationship fine, but that doesn't mean that they deserve the same rights as a married couple. Marriage being defined as a union between one MAN AND ONE WOMAN. My lady and i arn't married, however we live as a married couple. Should we not expect the same breaks that any married couple should? No because again of the definition of the word marriage. All you packers out there get over yourselfs. There was a time when you would have been run out of town, or a bullet put in your head. Be happy they don't sell hunting licenses for all the people that try and live any alternate lifestyles.

    March 26, 2013 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. Ginger

    We The People as it states in the Constitution should take care of this issue. I was born in this country, serviced for 24 years in the U.S. Navy and now work for the U.S. Army. Why should I have to ask to have the same rights as a straight American, I should already have those rights.

    March 26, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  13. Bobo

    57% how is that even statistically possible when 3% of the population is gay, maybe? CNN playing with numbers much?

    March 26, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. Name krc

    Jharwo what is so bad about two people loving one another. How successful have you been with relationships? Ever cheated? Ever used someone for pleasure only?

    March 26, 2013 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. Getoverit

    If 3% of the population is gay, how can 57% of the population be related to or friends with them? The numbers seem a little hard to believe.

    March 26, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  16. Surfer George

    I think that the Portman "adjustment" really shows just how socially, intellectually, emotionally, morally, ethically stunted, selfish, controlling and out of touch they are in terms of human rights and what constitutes true equality – OR they're really just not interested in equality for everyone.

    March 26, 2013 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  17. pjoe

    I also have a friend who is an amputee, and a relative that is a pilot, and a friend who owns a ferret. I bet they are even less of the population than homosexuals. So what?

    March 26, 2013 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. pjoe

    If we go by 6 degrees of seperation theory ... I know the whole world. So what?

    March 26, 2013 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. Left Out

    Since CNN won't post my Biblical fact against Gay Marriage. This tells
    me that CNN does Not stand for the Bible. If this post gets through I'll be

    CNN, thanks for letting me know your stand on the Bible. I'll know
    Not to believe anything CNN says or posts ever again.


    March 26, 2013 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
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