US Majority Against Denying Fed Recognition; Illinois Voters Support Gay Marriage Bill

Support for same-sex marriage enjoys a nine-point edge over opposition among Americans, according to a new poll released by the Center for American Progress (CAP), a Washington-based progressive advocacy group.

The poll, released on February 19 and conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and Voter Consumer Research, found that 52 percent of Americans support the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry versus 43 percent who say they oppose that right.

By an even greater margin –– 59 to 34 percent –– survey respondents said they oppose the provision of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that denies federal recognition to legally married same-sex couples. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in March in one of numerous challenges to that part of DOMA.

Some respondents, CAP said, believe all legally married couples deserve all the federal benefits of marriage even though they do not support their state granting same-sex couples the right to marry.

Majorities ranging from 66 to 78 percent of respondents agree that same-sex couples deserve specific benefits of marriage, such as Social Security survivor benefits, access to family medical benefits and leave, and hospital visitation rights.

The CAP poll, conducted January 23-27, found that opposition to DOMA’s denial of federal benefits stood at 65 percent among African Americans, 61 percent among Latinos, and 57 percent among whites.

The poll has a +/ – 3.5 percent margin of error.

Meanwhile, in Illinois, where a marriage equality measure supported by Democratic Governor Pat Quinn and approved last week by the Senate awaits House action, a poll released by Crain’s Chicago Business found that respondents there support the bill by a 50-29 percent margin. Same-sex marriage polls strongest in Chicago, where 56 percent are in support, with its suburbs registering 52 percent in favor and downstate showing a plurality –– at 48 percent –– in support.

The poll, conducted February 12-15, showed that 37 percent of respondents statewide were “strongly” in favor, with the remaining 13 percent “somewhat” in favor. Among the group who opposed equal marriage rights, 19 percent feel “strongly,” while 10 percent are “somewhat opposed.”

The Crain’s poll has a margin of error of 4.7 percent, with that margin larger in the Chicago, suburban, and downstate sub-samples.