In U.S., 52% Back Law to Legalize Gay Marriage in 50 States

In U.S., 52% Back Law to Legalize Gay Marriage in 50 States

by Lydia Saad

Americans would legalize gay marriage nationwide, favor equal rights for such unions

PRINCETON, NJ -- If given the opportunity to vote on a law legalizing gay marriage in all 50 states, the slight majority of Americans, 52%, say they would cast their vote in favor, while 43% would vote against it.

Same-Sex Marriage National Issue Referendum, July 2013

Across the nation's major demographic, political, and religious groups, support for the proposed law ranges from as high as 77% among self-described liberal Americans, and 76% among those with no religious affiliation, to as low as 23% among weekly churchgoers, and 30% among Republicans and conservatives.

Other groups showing at least 60% support for legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide include Democrats, adults aged 18 to 34, those who rarely or never attend a church or other place of worship, moderates, Easterners, and Catholics. Others showing less than 50% support include Protestants, adults 55 and older, Southerners, and men.

Position on Making Same-Sex Marriages Legal in All 50 States, by Subgroup, July 2013

The groups showing the most ambiguity about such a same-sex marriage law, with between 51% and 53% in favor and 43% to 45% opposed, include Midwesterners, nonwhites, and adults aged 35 to 54.

No Shift Since Court Decisions in General Support for Legalizing Gay Marriage

In the same poll, Gallup asked a separate half-sample of Americans whether they think marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages. The 54% saying they should be recognized conforms with the 53% expressing the same view in May, and prior to that in November 2012.

This is the first update of this Gallup trend since the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in July, making same-sex couples eligible for federal benefits in states where gay marriage has been legalized. The court also reportedly paved the way for gay marriage in California, by denying supporters of Proposition 8 in California standing to appeal a federal court's decision declaring the anti-gay-marriage amendment unconstitutional. It thus appears that these much-anticipated, and widely covered, decisions did not cause any realignment of public opinion, at least in the short term.

Bottom Line

Gallup used two separate approaches to measure public support for gay marriage this month, and they produced similar results: 52% would vote for a federal law legalizing same-sex marriages in all 50 states, and 54% think gay marriages should be recognized as valid, with the same rights as marriages between men and women. This adds to the body of evidence in Gallup trends that public opinion on gay marriage has reached a tipping point, whereby the majority now clearly supports it. Nevertheless, the issue remains highly divisive, as large majorities of left-leaning, nonreligious, and younger Americans endorse it, while right-leaning, religious, and older Americans still oppose it.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted July 10-14, 2013, with a random sample of 2,027 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points.

For results based on the samples of 972 national adults in Form A and 1,055 national adults in Form B, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by region. Landline and cell telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted to correct for unequal selection probability, nonresponse, and double coverage of landline and cell users in the two sampling frames. They are also weighted to match the national demographics of gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, population density, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, and cellphone mostly). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older U.S. population. Phone status targets are based on the July-December 2011 National Health Interview Survey. Population density targets are based on the 2010 census. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

View methodology, full question results, and trend data.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit

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