Americans Favor States' Rights On Same-Sex Marriage And Marijuana Use

December 05, 2012, 4:00 PM GMT+0

(Week of 12/1/2012) Last month, voters in three states opted to legalize same-sex marriage, marking the first time that same-sex marriage was made legal at the state level by popular initiative. Voters also legalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana in two states (18 states allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes). Despite national laws opposing both gay marriage and recreational marijuana use, Americans in the latest Economist/YouGov Poll are willing to leave decisions on both of these issues to the states.

That is especially the case when it comes to marijuana laws. In fact, most Americans support marijuana legalization as a general principle. According to our latest poll, the American public favors legalizing marijuana use by 51% to 36%.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, however, opinion is more closely divided. 47% favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally; 46% oppose that. A small gender gap exists on this question, with females being slightly more supportive. However there are wide party, age, and even regional differences. Two-thirds of those under 30 favor permitting same-sex marriage, while two-thirds of those over 65 oppose it. 63% of Democrats are in favor; 69% of Republicans are opposed. Independents are divided. There is support in the Northeast, and opposition in the South. The Midwest and West are narrowly divided.