National poll: mixed views on gay-rights

April 30, 2009 6:30:06 AM PDT
A majority of Americans oppose gay marriage but support civil unions for same-sex couples and favor repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the military, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday. Quinnipiac's polling institute, which surveyed 2,041 registered voters nationwide, said it was one of most comprehensive polls ever on attitudes toward a variety of gay-rights questions.

"Americans have nuanced and at times inconsistent views" on these issues, said the institute's assistant director, Peter Brown.

Among the key findings:

_By 56-37 percent, voters said the ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military should be repealed. Among voters with family in the military, the margin was 50-43 percent for repeal. Almost two-thirds of Catholic respondents supported repeal, but white evangelical Christians supported the current ban, 53-40 percent.

_By 55-38 percent, voters said they did not want their state to allow same-sex couples to marry. However, by 57-38 percent, they favored allowing such couples to form civil unions that would provide marriage-like rights and by 53-40 percent they supported allowing same-sex couples to adopt children.

_By 50-44 percent, survey respondents rejected the argument that ending discrimination against gays and lesbians is as necessary today as ending discrimination against blacks was in the 1960s.

_Also by 50-44 percent, voters supported the federal law allowing states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

_Asked if society is paying too much attention to the needs of gays and lesbians, 49 percent of voters said yes, while 21 percent said there's too little attention and 22 percent said it's "about right."

Four percent of respondents said they are gay or bisexual, while 63 percent said they have close friends or family members who are gay. Among those with a gay friend or relative, half supported same-sex marriage, while those without a gay friend or relative were opposed by 70-25 percent.

Earlier this month, Iowa and Vermont became the third and fourth states legalizing same-sex marriage, and bills proposing that step are pending in several other states.

The ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military remains in place. President Barack Obama has said he favors repealing it, but has indicated there could be lengthy consultations with military leaders before any action is taken.

The Quinnipiac poll was conducted from April 21-27. Its margin of error was 2.2 percentage points.


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