Americans Divided On Same-Sex Marriage, But Many Opponents Favor Civil Unions

May 16, 2012, 12:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 5/12/2012) President Barack Obama’s new-found support of same-sex marriage changed the minds of few Americans on the question. Last week, 44% said they were in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, and 46% opposed it; this week’s Economist/YouGov Poll finds little difference in overall opinion: 43% are in favor, 47% opposed.

Democrats favor same-sex marriage by 53%-37%, while independents favor it 51%-40%. On the other hand, 70% of Republicans oppose same-sex marriage. The party distributions changed little with the President’s announcement.

Supporters of gay marriage overwhelmingly prefer full marriage equality for same sex couples to legalized civil unions instead of marriage (82%-18%). However, many opponents of same-sex marriage would find civil unions acceptable: 46% of them would allow civil unions, 54% would not.

Nearly half of Republican who oppose same-sex marriage say they would support civil unions.

The position the President takes does not set national policy. And many Americans reject having one national policy on same-sex marriage. By 48% to 30%, Americans believe that each state should be allowed to set its own rules on whether same-sex couples can get married.

Down the road, Americans see a trend towards the legalization of same-sex marriages. By 63%-37%, Americans believe that in 30 years, same-sex marriage will be legal in the entire country. Slightly over half of Republicans expect that will happen.

More than a third of adults say they already know someone who is gay or lesbian and either married or in a civil union. That figure includes 28% of Republicans.

Economist/YouGov poll archives can be found here

Photo source: Press Association