March 26th, 2013
04:00 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN Poll: 56% say federal govt. should recognize same-sex marriages

Washington (CNN) - A majority of Americans say that same-sex marriages performed in states where they are legal should also be recognized as valid by the federal government, according to a new national survey.

But a CNN/ORC International poll also indicates wide partisan, generational, and geographical divides on the question.

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The CNN survey was released Tuesday, one day before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear arguments on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman, forbids the recognition of same-sex marriages nationwide, and bars married gay and lesbian couples from receiving federal benefits. And on the same day the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a related case regarding California's same-sex marriage ban, known as Proposition 8.

According to the poll, 56% of the public says the federal government should also legally recognize same-sex marriages, with 43% disagreeing.

"Not surprisingly, there is a wide partisan divide on this issue, with three-quarters of Democrats - and only a quarter of all Republicans - calling for the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in states that allow them," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

Fifty-six percent of independents say that the federal government should recognize such marriages.

The survey also highlights generational, gender and geographic divides.

"Opposition to federal recognition of same-sex marriage comes mostly from men, senior citizens and rural Americans; support is highest among women, 18-to-34 year olds, and urban residents," adds Holland.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the appeal of lower court decisions that struck down provisions in DOMA. The Obama administration declined to defend the law in court, but congressional Republicans, operating officially as the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives, took over the role normally filled by the Justice Department's solicitor general.

The marriages of an estimated 120,000 gay and lesbian couples in the nine states and the District of Columbia that allow same-sex marriage are not recognized by the federal government as military spouses, social security beneficiaries or for other purposes.

Congress passed the measure and President Bill Clinton signed it into law in 1996. Clinton recently renounced the law as "incompatible with our Constitution," saying "it was a very different time" when he put his signature on it.

The 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 and Supreme Court producer Bill Mears contributed to this report.

soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. Donna

    Total BS poll CNN.... As this poll is particularly affected by age and geographic location, just what were the democraphics and location of the polling sample? You MUST disclose that before claiming ANYTHING CNN. The manipulation of the masses is in play by the leftist media.

    March 26, 2013 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. A Kickin` Donkey

    If the Government DID NOT have a position on marriage at all [ i.e. tax rates etc. were independent of marital status] we wouldn`t need to have this decision about gay marriage.

    Marriage could maintain under the religious province underwhich it came about. Imagine that? Church and State affairs seperate.

    March 26, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC


    Total BS poll CNN....
    Biased poll or not, what is really wrong is the right wing's total disregard for the 1st Amendment when it comes to gay marriage.

    March 26, 2013 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  4. Moose

    Couples get more deductions, obamman wants more taxes, any questions ???

    March 26, 2013 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. TD

    That's a valid point; govt should stay out of marriage PERIOD

    March 26, 2013 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  6. Right onName

    Once again lying though so called polls you clowns amaze me

    March 26, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  7. Sam

    Where did you take the poll in a gay bar

    March 26, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. Patrick in Wisconsin

    Donna, if these polls are so liberally biased, how come they were spot on during the election? As Stephen Colbert said,"We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in reality. And reality has a well-known liberal bias."

    March 26, 2013 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  9. Abbey

    Let's have a vote on this..

    March 26, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. randy p

    A man has no business under the sheets chewing on another man's tobaco

    March 26, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  11. JanetMermaid

    I get that some people don't believe in gay marriage for religious reasons. What THEY don't get is they do NOT have the right to impose those beliefs on the lives of others. What two people choose to do with their lives is no one else's business.

    March 26, 2013 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. randy p

    why would a man be under the covers with another man. please tell me somebody? Are they helping each other with homework, or counceling?

    March 26, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Lola

    The numbers keep going up for support, they have never gone down. The youngest are the most supportive and the over 65 crowd is the least, it's inevitable where this is going.

    March 26, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  14. radconrat

    I think California decided the issue... they rejected gay marriage. Case closed.

    March 26, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. Howard

    Enough, get the government, regardless of party, out of our private relationships, out of our reproductive decisions, and especially out of using religious bias for laws. Marriage is nothing more than a public acknowledgement of a relationship union between two people with legal contractual obligations attached. In most cases the law doesn't care until one of the parties attempts to disolve the union. A marriage doesn't require or depend on a religious ceremony to be legal. Until this country is formally declared a theocracy the division between church and state must be upheld.

    March 26, 2013 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  16. Chris B

    Hey Donna, EVERYTHING is "leftist" when you are so far right you are a minority!

    March 26, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  17. Bob of NJ

    This is a human rights issue and a social issue. And last time I checked we lived in a FREE country where you get to be who you want to be, practice the religion you want to practice, and marry the person you want to marry. The Government should keep their noses our of these issues; same as abortions, and worry about more important things like OUR BUDGET. It's a Government By The People, and For The People. You are voted upon to represent THE PEOPLE, not your own beliefs and that of your political party. Do the right thing.

    March 26, 2013 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  18. Moose

    @ libs enjoy what you voted for , remember that 6 months from know , new polls also say bamman is at a new low, @patty in wisc, get real cheese head, when your quoting you aint thinking

    March 26, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. Dave Long

    Issues come and go, allowing conservatives to couch their concerns in differing language from one to the next, but there's really only one thing conservatives fear – change.

    March 26, 2013 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  20. Disco

    The comments here are so great. Oh yes, all the polls are skewed, just like last November when President Romney won the election.

    March 26, 2013 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  21. Sean

    Donna is against marriage equality. Her parents were against interracial marriage. Theirs supported segregation, and the next generation behind was against women's rights to vote/work/think. A few more generations back they resisted freeing the slaves, and even farther back supported the British in the revolutionary war. Perhaps that's a bit of an extrapolation, but at least the exercise identifies which side of history Donna will be on...

    March 26, 2013 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  22. Casey Perry

    Right on! GAY IS OKAY!!

    March 26, 2013 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  23. thinking outside the box

    @ Donna,

    It took me all of three seconds to find the pdf of this poll online by googling it. Here are the sampling statistics.

    A total of 1,021 adults were interviewed by telephone nationwide by live interviewers calling both landline and cell phones. All respondents were asked questions concerning basic demographics, and the entire sample was weighted to reflect national Census figures for gender, race, age, education, region of country, and telephone usage. Among the entire sample, 33% described themselves as Democrats, 25% described themselves as Republicans, and 43% described themselves as Independents or members of another party

    March 26, 2013 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  24. Name

    Gays choose to be gay. There is no gay gene. Your not born gay. If I choose to be a teacher I dont get any more rites. You choose to be gay,so what makes you think you should get rites. Your not another species, your just a person who chooses to be gay.

    March 26, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  25. Sly

    A few years back inter-racial marriage was illegal, and we heard the same arguments.

    March 26, 2013 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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