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Support Increases for Gay Marriage

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

More voters support same-sex marriage, but most still don't believe it's an area that should be governed by the feds.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 51% of Likely U.S. Voters now favor gay marriage, the highest level of support since regular surveying of the question began in 2013.  This is up from 46% last June before the Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld the legality of gay marriage nationwide and from the previous high of 48%, last reached in late 2014.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) still oppose gay marriage, down from 41% a year ago. Thirteen percent (13%) remain undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

It's important to note that this survey was taken before a radical Islamic terrorist opened fire in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, this weekend, killing 49 and wounding dozens of others. Most Americans saw the terrorist massacre in Orlando coming nearly three months ago.

When it comes to the laws governing marriage, just 39% of voters think they should be established by the federal government, little changed from past surveying. Thirty-three percent (33%) think states should be responsible for these laws, while 11% say it's a local government decision. Eighteen percent (18%) are undecided.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 8-9, 2016 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology

Last year at this time, 36% of voters said marriage is a civil institution rather than a religious one, but 50% considered it a religious institution instead.

Women remain more supportive of gay marriage than men are.

Support for gay marriage continues to be a generational thing. Seventy-two percent (72%) of those under 40 favor gay marriage, compared to 41% of middle-aged voters and 35% of senior citizens.

Democrats (67%) are far more supportive of gay marriage than Republicans (36%) and voters not affiliated with either major political party (47%). Democrats are also much more likely to favor putting marriage laws in the federal government’s hands, while GOP voters tend to think it's an area of state responsibility. Unaffiliateds are almost evenly divided between the two.

Among voters who favor gay marriage, 59% believe laws governing marriage should be set by the federal government. Among voters who oppose gay marriage, just 15% agree; 50% of these voters think those laws should be up to the states.

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling to allow gay marriage in all 50 states last year, 66% of those under 40 favored the decision, compared to 44% of middle-aged voters and 36% of seniors.

Despite the divide on gay marriage, voters had little sympathy or support for the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to administer marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The clerk insists that gay marriage violates her Christian beliefs, but 56% believe an elected local official who refuses to honor a federal court decision for religious reasons should be removed from office.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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