NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Most Americans disagree with the Episcopal Church’s decision to allow the blessing of same-sex unions, according to a new Washington Post poll that also shows a continuing backlash on the homosexual issue.
The poll of 1,003 Americans found that 60 percent of Americans disagree with the Episcopal Church’s decision giving its local bishops the option of blessing same-sex relationships. The decision was made at the denomination’s general convention in early August.
But the poll also mirrored the findings of a July Gallup poll that showed a backlash against homosexual issues. The Post poll, released Aug. 13, found that by a 58-37 percent margin Americans are opposed to legalizing Vermont-type civil unions that would give homosexual couples some of the legal rights of married couples. The Gallup poll’s margin was 57-40.
It is the first sign that the Gallup poll — widely touted in the media as showing a backlash following the Supreme Court’s Lawrence v. Texas decision on sodomy — was not a statistical glitch. In fact, The Washington Post percentages on civil unions are both records for a Post or Gallup poll. While 58 percent is a record level of opposition to the legalization of civil unions, the level of support (37 percent) marks the first time that figure has dipped below 40 percent.
When Gallup first asked the question in 2000, the margin of opposition was 54-42 percent.
“There is a backlash and there really seems to be an unwillingness to have the church sanctioning homosexual activity. That’s clearly what the poll shows,” Peter LaBarbera, senior policy analyst with the Culture and Family Institute in Washington, told Baptist Press.
Among those who have a religion, 63 percent said they would be opposed to their church blessing same-sex unions. Also, about half of respondents — 47 percent — said they’d leave their church if it began blessing such unions. Forty-eight percent said they’d stay.
More than 80 percent of evangelical Christians said they are opposed to blessing same-sex unions, and two-thirds said they’d leave their church if it performed such an action.
LaBarbera said the numbers are encouraging. He noted that opposition to legalizing civil unions is increasing as the country debates same-sex “marriage.”
“The numbers are going down on civil unions, which shows that Americans do not want to treat civil unions as marriages,” he said. “We’re real encouraged. I think there’s been a turnaround and we’re hoping that now Americans will be more informed and the numbers will continue to go our way.”
Another poll, released Aug. 14, showed that Americans are paying considerable attention to the debate over same-sex “marriage.” The poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press showed that 19 percent of Americans are following the debate “very closely” and 30 percent “fairly closely.” The combined total of 49 percent is higher than the percentage for the Kobe Bryant case and the same number as the Democratic presidential race.
White evangelicals are paying the most attention to the same-sex “marriage” issue — 32 percent said they are following it very closely and 25 percent fairly closely.