(Week of 6/22/2013) The Supreme Court’s decision today overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and leaving decisions about same-sex marriage to the states is one the public agrees with —although like the justices, the public is closely divided. In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, conducted just before the high court announced its decision, 45% said they believed the law denying federal benefits to same-sex couples married in a state where that is now legal should be overturned. But 40% disagreed.
The split mirrors other national issue divides: Democrats wanted to see the law declared unconstitutional by better than two to one, while Republicans disagreed by the same overwhelming margin. There are divides by age and education as well. Those under 45 favored overturning the law, while those 45 and older did not, and college educated Americans were more likely to favor overturning the law than those without a college education. The South was the only region where more wanted to keep DOMA than to overrule it.
59% of Republicans want to keep decisions about same-sex marriage at the state level, although that opinion may change now that the Court effectively has ruled that the states will determine the legality of same-sex marriage (and 12 states have legalized it). By 48% to 39%, Democrats favor a national rule on the issue.
Before the Court’s ruling, there was no national consensus on same-sex marriage.
46% of those in this week’s poll said gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry legally; 45% disagreed. On this issue the age divide is a chasm. Those under 30 favor legalizing same-sex marriage by more than two to one; those 65 and older oppose legalization 56% to 38%.
But even many opponents believe same-sex marriage is destined to become law everywhere in the near future: 70% expect it will be legal everywhere within 30 years.
Even 64% of Republicans, most of whom oppose same-sex marriage, say it will be legal throughout the country within 30 years.
Photo source: Press Association