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Poll: Over half of all Americans favor national recognition for same-sex marriages

News release from Harris Interactive and Witeck-Combs Communications:

New Poll Reveals that Nearly Half of U.S. Adults Also Support Marriage Equality

New York and Washington, DC – July 22, 2011 – This week, President Obama endorsed repeal of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, arguing that it is unconstitutional to deny same-sex marriages equal recognition by the federal government or for the federal government to stand in the way of any state that chooses to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions. (Today marriage equality for same-sex couples is the law in six states as well as Washington, D.C.) A new national poll released today suggests that more than half of all Americans support the White House position.

According to the latest survey conducted by Harris Interactive, more than half (53%) of all U.S. adults agreed that regardless of their own personal views, “a same-sex marriage legally granted in one state should be recognized as a legal marriage in all other states in the same way generally that heterosexual marriages are recognized across state lines.” Just as significantly, 49% of all U.S. adults say they “support the right for same-sex couples to marry,” when contrasted with 41% who oppose the right, and 10% who are not at all sure.

The new nationwide online survey of 2,397 U.S. adults, (ages 18 and over), of whom 358 self identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (LGBT), was conducted between July 11 and July 18, 2011, by Harris Interactive, a global market research and consulting firm, in conjunction with Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc., a strategic public relations and marketing communications firm with special expertise on LGBT issues.

Given the nation’s changing attitudes towards marriages between same-sex partners, the study also questioned LGBT adults about their choices where to live and work – given the contrast between states that offer or deny equal marriage rights for same-sex partners today. [Note that these respondents were asked to assume they live currently in a state with equal marriage rights, in order to test their attitudes.] The study found:

  • Four out of ten (46%) lesbian and gay adults say they would “consider changing jobs if my employer required me to transfer to a state where same sex marriages were not recognized.”
  • 48% of all lesbian and gay adults also agreed they “would consider declining a job promotion if it required me to transfer to a state where same sex marriages were not recognized” and,
  • Most significant of all, over 3/4 (78%) of lesbian and gay adults said that “other factors being equal, I would prefer a job with an employer in a state where same sex marriages are recognized over an employer in a state that does not recognize same sex marriages.

“According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, there now are between 50,000 to 80,000 legally married same-sex couples in the U.S.,” noted Bob Witeck, CEO of Witeck-Combs Communications. “And with the historic new law in New York making marriage equality official this weekend; hundreds more will soon join them.”

“These strong trends are truly shaping America’s attitudes towards and understanding of same-sex couples and LGBT families in familiar and very reassuring ways. However, there also is an emerging economic and business impact here that begs attention – as many of these LGBT families act on their instincts to favor gay-welcoming states and employers found in progressive legal climates.”

The national survey also encouraged respondents to foresee new trends “if more states allow same-sex couples to marry equally as opposite-sex couples.” Here are snapshots of those outcomes that both LGBT and heterosexual adults believe are “likely [or unlikely] to happen:”

  • Two-thirds or 65% of LGBT adults say “more gays and lesbians will move their families to states where marriage for same-sex couples is permitted.” Over half (52%) of heterosexual adults agree.
  • Three-fourths (75%) of LGBT adults say “over time, same-sex couples will be able to marry anywhere in the United States, and nearly half (46%) of all heterosexuals concur.
  • Two-thirds (66%) of LGBT adults believe that “states that permit same-sex couples to marry will benefit economically more than other states, while over one-quarter (27%) of heterosexuals agree.
  • And when asked whether a “Constitutional Amendment to limit marriages of same-sex couples or to prevent same-sex couples from marrying” will be passed, only 8% of heterosexuals agreed along with 12% of LGBT adults.


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