SBC Life Articles

Backlash Against the Massachusetts Ruling

A solid majority of Americans oppose same-sex "marriage" and favor a constitutional marriage amendment, and nearly half believe same-sex relationships should be illegal, a new poll by The New York Times and CBS News shows.

The poll is the latest sign of a backlash against court rulings favorable to the homosexual movement. It also runs counter to claims by politicians who say a constitutional amendment has little support. Democrat presidential candidates Joe Lieberman and Dick Gephardt have said they oppose efforts by the "right wing" to amend the Constitution.

But the new poll shows broad support for an amendment among voters in both parties. As a whole, Americans favor an amendment by a margin of 55-40 percent. Among Republicans the margin is 63-33, among Democrats it is 52-44.

Additionally, people in every region support an amendment, including those in the Northeast and West — two areas traditionally more liberal than the rest of the country. Fifty-one percent of Americans in the Northeast support an amendment, while 48 percent of people in the West — a plurality — favor it. Support in the South is at 63 percent, support in the North Central is at 55 percent.

It is the first public poll on the issue of an amendment since the controversial Massachusetts court ruling November 18 in favor of same-sex "marriage." Three polls prior to that ruling showed support for an amendment to be from 54-58 percent.
"We have a clear and significant majority of the American people with us on this one," Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission President Richard Land told Baptist Press. "It's a critical issue and we have a critical mass of support."

The proposed Federal Marriage Amendment has been introduced in Congress, where it will require passage of two-thirds of the House and Senate. It will then need ratification by three-fourths (thirty-eight) of the states.

"It's going to take very concerned Americans letting their congressmen and their senators and their governor and their state legislators know that they want this done — now," Land said.

The Massachusetts ruling was the latest victory for homosexuals, who also celebrated a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June striking down anti-sodomy laws.

Among the poll's other findings:

• Americans oppose legalizing same-sex "marriage" by a margin of 61-34 percent. The opposition is six points higher than it was in July.

• Americans oppose legalizing civil unions by a margin of 54-39 percent. Legal only in Vermont, civil unions give same-sex couples most of the legal benefits of marriage without using the word "marriage." Every Democrat candidate supports legalizing either civil unions or domestic partnerships. President Bush has indicated he would leave the issue up to the states.

• Nearly half of adults, 49 percent, believe that same-sex relationships should be illegal. Forty-one percent say they should be legal.

That is a reversal from a July poll, when by a 54-39 percent margin of Americans said such relationships should be legal.

The 49 percent is the highest opposition to same-sex relationships since the poll began asking the question in 1992.

• Nearly half of adults, 49 percent, believe that same-sex relations are morally wrong. Thirteen percent say such relations are acceptable, while 36 percent say they don't care either way.

• Most Americans, 53 percent, say that marriage is mostly a religious matter. Thirty-three percent say it is mostly a legal matter. Homosexual activists, in trying to shape public opinion, have argued that same-sex "marriage" is a secular and not a religious matter.

• Americans are split on the issue of the cause of homosexuality: 44 percent say it is something chosen, 44 percent say it cannot be changed.

• A large majority, 60 percent, say it would be unacceptable to have a same-sex "marriage" performed in their church or synagogue.

• Most Americans, 55 percent, say they do not know of anyone who is homosexual. Forty-four percent say they do.

As an illustration of the broad support an amendment has, Land recounted a conversation he had recently with a stranger in the Pittsburgh airport. The man, making small talk but not knowing who Land was, brought up the Massachusetts court ruling and said, "I normally don't believe we should legislate morality, but in this case they're trying to legislate morality and shove their values down our throats, and we've got to stop it."

The man likely wouldn't side with social conservatives on most issues, but he believes that something "basic and fundamental" is "at stake," Land said.

"[Homosexual activists] feared a backlash," Land said. "It's happened."

The poll mirrors other polls in finding acceptance of homosexual issues among young adults. Among those ages 18-29, 56 percent favor legalizing same-sex marriage, 52 percent oppose a constitutional amendment and 58 percent say same-sex relationships should be legal.

The poll of 1,057 adults was conducted December 10-13.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust