Portman, Hillary on Board, Marriage Equality Support Hits 58 Percent in US

A new poll from ABC News and the Washington Post shows that 58 percent of registered voters now support the right of same-sex couples to marry –– a record level. As recently as 2010, support stood at just 47 percent, and in 2004, months after gay marriage began in Massachusetts, the same poll found that only 32 percent of Americans supported the issue.

Among men, support now stands at 54 percent versus 61 percent among women. More than 80 percent of voters 18-29 now support marriage equality, as do 72 percent of Democrats, 62 percent of independents, 61 percent of non-whites, 59 percent of Catholics, and 57 percent of whites. Among conservatives, just 34 percent voiced support for gay marriage.

The poll surveyed 1,001 adults March 7-10.

ABC and the Washington Post polling shows that in 1994, 49 percent of respondents believed that sexual orientation is innate, while 40 percent felt it was a choice. Today, only 24 percent believe that homosexuality is a choice, versus 62 percent who think it’s “just the way they are.”

Given that two marriage equality cases go before the Supreme Court at the end of March, it is significant that 64 percent of voters told pollsters that the US Constitution should settle the question versus 33 percent who said it should be decided state by state.

On March 15, Ohio’s Rob Portman became the first Republican in the US Senate to endorse marriage equality. In an op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch, the first-term senator, who voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) as a member of the House in 1996, said his 21-year-old son Will, a junior at Yale, had told him two years ago that he is gay.

The Human Rights Campaign, on March 18, released a video in which former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton voiced her support for gay marriage.

“LGBT Americans are our colleagues, our teachers, our soldiers, our friends, our loved ones, and they are full and equal citizens and deserve the rights of citizenship,” Clinton said in the video. “That includes marriage. That's why I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law.”

Several weeks ago, Clinton’s husband, the former president, wrote, in a Washington op ed, wrote that he now believes that DOMA, which he signed into law, is unconstitutional.