March 25th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
7 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. chet

    I have gay friends and relatives but they respect my beliefs that Marriage as I believe it to be is between a man and a woman. They also understand that I am all in favor of Unions and equal benefits afforded Married Couples.

    March 25, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  2. Parfin Woodell


    Haha!! I love to see the lib trolls stating that the GOB is dead

    GOB ?
    There you have it folks.
    Any questions ?

    March 25, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. nrugado

    This is not the 'Portman Effect'... this is gay people coming out of the closet and speaking up for themselves to coworkers, friends and family.

    March 25, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  4. Bert BigDongle

    Let the propaganda continue! GNN – all gay, all the time!

    March 25, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  5. SJ

    Gays being born gay is the biggest lie ever. Comparing it to other human rights causes like workers rights, black rights, women's rights etc. is simply manipulation of just causes to find support for deviant behaviors. Wouldn't be easy in future for some to start asking for rapists rights, rights for those who practice incest, adulterers rights, drug addicts rights, child molesters rights etc.

    March 25, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  6. Chris R

    Freedom, CNN isn't saying that Rob Portman is responsible for the rise in poll numbers. Only that his experience of having a close friend of family member be gay is helping change people's minds. They've decided to call this experience the Rob Portman effect that's all.

    March 25, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  7. Nate

    I suffered most of my life because people thought I was evil!... After ending a marriage because I not only needed to be me but did not want to hurt a woman that I did love very much!.. She and her family have not spoken to me in almost 30 years!..... They still believe I am a evil person etc...... I hope before I die they and the world will realize that we are born this way and that there is nothing wrong with being GAY!.... It's about being a good person.....

    Anyway, I am hopeful and excited about what is happening!

    March 25, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  8. ViK100

    I don't support this crap!!

    March 25, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  9. ladyfon

    I see from the comments that the "liberal effect" would rather conservatives NOT change their minds on this issue. Don't preach love and tolerance, if all you do is hate and not tolerate!"

    March 25, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  10. occombill

    Rob Portman Effect? Please. As if anyone gives a rat's ass that Rob Portman altered his bigotry because his son's gay. This is an equal protection issue, and a politician who needs it to effect his own family before recognizing same is merely exhibiting his willingness to change the rules for his own people, on top of being wrong to begin with.

    March 25, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  11. the future is looking so bright I need sun glasses

    I really do look forward to the America that the Democrats and their far left agenda will bring us. A country with no borders, where anybody can simply walk in and receive free government everything. A country where drugs are legal and abundant on every street corner in this great land for all the young to partake with fear of being busted.

    A country where men & women, men & men, women & women, men & 3 women, woman & 3 men, men & sheep, women & dogs can all be "married". A country where there are no "evil rich" people but many many poor people left wondering where all the riches disappeared to. A country with a "level playing field" of squalor where you need not try, just show up for your government food and be deemed a winner. A country that never has to balance it's budget because we will be able to print and borrow money forever.

    Yes, I truly do need some better sun glasses for such a bright future. Some so dark I cannot see the truth.

    March 25, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  12. Susan StoHelit

    Conservatives – after watching the election results, haven't you learned yet? Reality is not what you are imagining it to be, within an echo chamber of news and people who agree with you. If that echo chamber were right, Romney would be President.

    Yes, most people now agree with gay marriage. It's a change, but all the polls show it, including those run by Fox News – that creates a narrow margin, but even there, the result is the same. Time to stop hiding from reality, denying it does not change it.

    March 25, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  13. Enuf

    Enough already.enuf enuf enufff!!!no legal gay marriage! No such thing!!

    March 25, 2013 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  14. Dave in Arizona


    All this does is drive home the point that Americans lack empathy. Unless it's something that affects themselves or someone close to them, not only do they not care but they'll often condemn it. I'm happy that things are turning around in this case but long-term, this lack of empathy is going to continue to hurt our rights, freedoms, and social progress.

    March 25, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  15. Susan StoHelit

    @Rizzo – lies mean you know the truth isn't on your side. Shouldn't that give you cause to think before you post lies?

    Yes, Obama won the vote – including the pure simple majority vote. Don't lie about it, it is not in doubt.

    March 25, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  16. We are getting better

    It is great to see that the SCOTUS Chief Justice Roberts will have a lesbian cousin in the audience as the decisions is rendered. We shall move forward as a country, regardless of this ruling, but it sure would be nice to make marriage available to all.

    March 25, 2013 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  17. Fred Phred

    Gotta love these people. It's BAD.. oh wait my son is gay.. Ok it's now acceptable!

    Same thing with Dick Cheney.

    Always willing to throw down a negative opinon on someone's values until it's someone they know. Yeah that's what Jesus would do..

    March 25, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  18. serna

    CNN and its fake polls – 53% do not support gay marriage. What is their agenda? Speed up the moral decay so they can rule over a broken society?

    March 25, 2013 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  19. Dan

    More proof that Republicans have 1 value: selfishness. They can't bear to support someone else's liberties until it affects them personally.

    March 25, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  20. Taken4granted

    Okay this is an International Poll influencing our political views on gay marriage. I do not believe in these polls because it can manipulate some areas of the population to make a higher rating than the rest of people not participating...
    I am losing confidence on Media manipulation.

    March 25, 2013 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  21. Paul B

    Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.
    Gilbert K. Chesterton

    Is it really virtuous to abandon your principals, your moral compass, for your familly?

    March 25, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. sanity

    Cheney has long publicly supported gay marriage (as early as 2004). Obama came out in 2012. As usual, libs don't have any facts.

    March 25, 2013 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  23. Help us

    We are being desensitized by hearing this over and over again til we give in and consider it normal. Its satans way. Wake up! Its not normal !

    March 25, 2013 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  24. jay woods

    Marc That is your choice give them theirs ,This is a free nation or that is what we have been led to believe.Some of us so called Christians are the worst example of saint hood but the biggest abusers of Gay life style .

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

    Sorry, chet, you don't get to have a 'belief' over someone's civil rights.

    And serna – your imaginaty 'moral decay' is coming from the straight god-fearing right, last anyone checked.

    March 25, 2013 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7