Alex Blaze

Most Americans Favor Same-Sex Marriage

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 20, 2011 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Media, Politics
Tags: ABC, Associated Press, CNN, marriage, poll, Washington Post

CNN has a new poll that shows a slight majority of Americans support same-sex marriage, making it the third of recent marriage polls to show that:

APAugust, 20105246
Wash. Post/ABCMarch, 20115344
CNNApril, 20115147

The wording of the question varies with each (the AP only asked about the federal government and didn't say "gay and lesbian," the WaPo/ABC poll asked about "illegal or illegal" while CNN asked about same-sex marriages being "valid") but the results are similar.

All of them were polls of Americans generally, so if there were an actual vote on this issue the numbers would probably be skewed a little against same-sex marriage since older people, according to the CNN poll, as still more reticent about the subject. The CNN numbers also broke out by race (white vs. non-white) and there wasn't much difference.

Nate Silver put together a chart on this subject at the NY Times that shows that the general movement towards same-sex marriage has been speeding up in the last two years, which is probably due to a number of factors, like media showing more LGBT people on TV, politicians not demonizing us as much, and several states legalizing same-sex marriage without consequence.

But, as his chart shows, that doesn't mean that this can't be turned around. Around 2004 there's a trend in the polling, even more pronounced in the Washington Post/ABC poll, where opposition to same-sex marriage actually increased while support decreased. It's most likely because of the homophobic campaign season that year, which means that some people are still very much into group-think and are willing to change their opinion on the subject in both directions.

Although with politicians focused on deficit scare more than homo-scare going into 2012, that's probably not going to be an issue for a while.

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Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | April 20, 2011 5:12 PM

The poll questions were characterized in terms of same sex marriage, and thus do not appear to have included "marriage equivalents" such as civil unions, etc. (Hold your fire, folks who denounce the latter as "separate and thus inherently unequal".......I'm with you....just making a point about where attitudes may be). One might expect that there is a substantial segment of the population that would favor the latter but not the former. Anybody have any thoughts or knowledge of data concerning that?

The AP poll linked above found a 58-38 breakdown in favor of a long question about "the same rights" for same-sex couples, but the wording was convoluted that I don't know if people even knew that it was asking about CU's, not marriage.

I should add that civil unions just don't get polled as much as marriage does, even though they get polled more than something like antidiscrimination legislation. Employment protections were last polled a couple years ago and it was only about sexual orientation; the last national, gender ID poll on antidiscrimination laws I know about was conducted in 2002. Gays in the military had a few more as the topic heated up last year.

But marriage is the mainstream media's big gay issue to poll.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | April 20, 2011 6:45 PM

There are a number of states which have constitutional amendments prohibiting same sex marriage but (at least not on their face) civil unions, etc. Others ban both. In Indiana, back in 2007, an amendment was proposed which the sponsors claimed was moderate in tone because it would still allow the state legislature to enact civil unions, but not change the definition of marriage itself. Two spokespersons for the Indiana Family Institute openly blogged that although they didn't like civil unions, and would work against such legislation, the Indiana legislature not only still could, but in fact should, be able to retain that power.

And although they still are in denial that they ever said such a thing (as did some other supportive legislators), they abandoned that stance in favor of the present proposal that would prohibit civil unions as well as anything "substantially similar" to marriage. The mainstream press in Indiana still remains largely oblivious to the significance of this flip flop.

Most likely Indiana currently remains one of those states where the percentage favoring same sex marriage is not as high as those opposed....but the results would seem to be much closer if they were asked about civil unions.

All of which is to say that if any of my Hoosier brothers and sisters reading Bilerico (and I know there are many) want to let their media and legislators know about how the proponents did a bit 180 degree turn but still refuse to admit it, by all means do so.

I think it's important to point out that the CNN poll only asked people over the age of 33 (or something similar). So that doesn't even count the folks that would usually vote in our favor.

Bil, you are exactly right in your comment. I've been working today with a mainstream, straight (although their membership certainly includes LGBT individuals) that advocates on behalf of young Americans. They launched a national campaign and online petition asking CNN to include a stastically signficant number of 35 and under in their polling.

The press release from this organization is below. If you, too, believe CNN should stop making excuses for not including the most pro-LGBT generation in our country's history -- please go to and sign the petition!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, April 21st, 2011
Contact: Robb Friedlander 913-636-0099 or

Young Americans Launch National Campaign Targeting CNN & Opinion Research Corp. for Excluding “Under 35” from Recent “Adult” Poll

Our Time Launches Petition Demanding CNN Commission New Poll of ALL “Adult” Americans

Washington, DC - Today, Our Time a national membership organization created to empower Americans under the age of 30 economically and politically – launched a full-scale, national campaign targeting CNN and Opinion Research Corporation for releasing a national poll of “adult” Americans on Tuesday that completely ignored those under the age of 35. The petition, sent today to nearly half-a-million young Americans, calls on CNN and Opinion Research to immediately cease using this discriminatory, unrepresentative polling data and commission a new national poll, including all voting age Americans who are guaranteed the constitutional right to have a representative voice in our country’s democracy.

On Tuesday, CNN and Opinion Research – the exclusive pollster for CNN – released the findings of an 824 sample size survey of “adult” Americans asking their views on the legalization of marijuana and same-sex marriage. The only problem with this national, “adult” poll is that in the cross-tabs, CNN and Opinion Research show that they excluded all Americans under the age of 35 in the sample size. For the under 35 years of age demographic segment in the poll’s cross-tabs “N/A” or “Not Applicable” is given as the sample size.

The petition states, “CNN and Opinion Research think your opinion only matters if you're over 35”. The petition goes on to say, “we need you to tell CNN that N/A is NOT OK! Sign our petition to CNN and Opinion Research and demand that they immediately stop using their unrepresentative poll and commission a new poll – one that surveys all adult Americans, 18-34 year-olds included!”

You can view the full petition and sign your name, by going to: You can also have your voice heard by going to Our Time’s Facebook page ( and registering your opinion on the exact same, two questions as was released in Tuesday’s CNN poll. Our Time has also posted a piece “CNN ‘Adult’ Poll on Gay Marriage and Marijuana Ignores Under 35!?” on their blog and can be read, here:

“By ignoring Americans under the age of 35, CNN and Opinion research excluded over 60 million voting age Americans from having their voice heard on two issues currently on the front-burner in our country,” said Matthew Segal, President of Our Time. “CNN and Opinion Research have clearly demonstrated a belief that if you’re under 35 then the only thing that matters is your pocketbook. CNN is eager to claim the millions of young Americans viewers as their ‘target audience’ when marketing us to potential advertisers, but when it comes to registering our opinion the cable network ignores our voice.”

Segal goes on to state, “CNN has just sent all young Americans under the age of 35 a loud, clear message that states ‘open your wallet, but keep your mouth closed’. It is time for CNN to do the right thing by their ‘target audience’ and commission a new poll that is truly of all adult Americans.”

Time Warner Cable lists a “2008 Cable Advertising Bureau (CAB) profile” of CNN on their website. The 2008 CAB profile of CNN shows over 96 million subscribers to the cable network, with a target audience for the cable network being the “18-49, 25-54” demographic. You can view the entire “2008 CAB Profile” by going to:

If Our Time gathers 5,000 signed petitions they will not only deliver those petitions to CNN, but will also deliver 17 cell phones – for each year between 18 and 35 excluded from the poll -- to the cable network’s DC headquarters. That way they have no excuse to not reach out to the millions of Americans falling in each of the 17 years between 18 and 34, excluded from Tuesday’s poll.

OUR TIME ( is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that aims to solve the lack of political representation for young Americans by organizing our generation in one all-encompassing membership group, because combined and activated we are millions of voters with billions of dollars. We also have fundamental similarities: we all need jobs, access to education and training, affordable healthcare, financial and consumer protection, and voting rights, to name a few core values. To follow Our Time on Facebook go to: Or to follow Our Time on Twitter, go to: