NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Nearly one year after same-sex “marriage” was legalized in Massachusetts, support for a marriage amendment to the U.S. Constitution appears to be at an all-time high, according to a new Gallup poll.
The poll found that by a margin of 57-37 percent, adults favor amending the Constitution to protect the traditional definition of marriage, thus banning “gay marriage.” It is a significant increase from last July, when only 48 percent said they favored a marriage amendment.
It is the highest support for a marriage amendment since Gallup began asking the question. The previous high was 53 percent in February 2004.
“Nationwide, there appears to be growing support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as only between a man and a woman,” Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll, wrote in an online column.
Amendment support comes at a time when a slew of states are passing their own constitutional marriage amendments. Thirteen states passed amendments last year, and Kansas followed by passing one in early April. All total, 18 states now have marriage amendments. They have proven popular, passing with an average of 70 percent of the vote. A marriage amendment has never failed at the ballot.
Massachusetts’ high court sparked the backlash in November 2003 when it issued its ruling legalizing “gay marriage.” The ruling took effect May 17. The amendments on the state level ensure that state courts won’t hand down a similar ruling. But because they can be overturned in federal court, traditionalists and conservatives support an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
The Gallup poll of 909 adults, conducted March 18-20 and released in April, asked Americans if they favored or opposed “a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman, thus barring marriages between gay or lesbian couples.”
Gallup also asked adults their general views of “gay marriage.” The organization divided the sample in half, asking a differently worded question to each group.
One group of adults (a sample of 443) was asked if they thought “marriages between homosexuals should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.” Sixty-eight percent said they opposed same-sex “marriage,” 28 percent said they favored it. It is the highest opposition to “gay marriage” in the Gallup poll since 1996.
The second group (a sample of 466) was asked, “Which of the following arrangements between gay or lesbian couples do you think should be recognized as legally valid — same-sex marriages, civil unions, but not same-sex marriages, or neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions?” Twenty percent said they supported “gay marriage,” 27 percent civil unions and 45 percent neither.
Homosexual groups have objected to Gallup’s use of the term “homosexual,” saying it is pejorative and should be replaced with “gay and lesbian.” While all of Gallup’s questions on the subject don’t use the term “homosexual,” some do. The marriage amendment question used “gay” and “lesbian.”
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) contacted Gallup recently about the concern, Newport said.
“Gallup’s response to this criticism is twofold,” Newport wrote in an online article. “First, these are trend questions. The wording we use was developed years ago when Gallup first asked the questions. The ability to monitor change over time is based on holding everything constant except time, particularly the question wording. If we changed the wording and then found a change in responses, we wouldn’t know if the change was due to the change in wording or an actual change in people’s attitudes. That doesn’t mean Gallup never changes question wording, but we are very careful when we do.
“That leads to the second point. It is reasonable to consider changing a trend question if there are significant and widespread objections to some element of the initial question wording. Although GLAAD is a reputable advocacy group for gay and lesbian causes, it certainly cannot claim to represent the views of all gay and lesbian Americans — any more than AARP can claim to represent the views of all older Americans.
“Ideally, we would like to have survey data allowing us to measure attitudes toward the term ‘homosexual’ among all gays and lesbians. But reliable surveys of the nation’s gay and lesbian population are hard to come by.”
The marriage amendment in the U.S. Senate is Senate Joint Resolution 1, and in the House it’s House Joint Resolution 39.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit http://www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage