First 2013 marriage equality poll shows growing bipartisan majority support

WASHINGTON – The Respect for Marriage Coalition today released a memo from Anzalone Liszt Grove Research summarizing key findings from the first public opinion poll of 2013 on marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples.

The poll found that a growing bipartisan majority of registered voters support marriage rights. Three-quarters of voters believe that the freedom to marry is a constitutional right, and an even higher 83% believe that marriage for same-sex couples will become legal nationwide in the next decade.

The memo is included below.

Recent poll results find that a strong and growing bipartisan majority of registered voters believe that the right for Americans to marry the person they love is both a constitutional right and a freedom that all Americans – including gays and lesbians -- should enjoy. An overwhelming majority of voters of all political persuasions, including those who personally oppose marriage equality, also believe that granting same-sex couples the same legal right to marry as straight couples is likely to happen: 77% believe that marriage for gays and lesbians will be legal in the United States in “the next couple of years” and 83% believe that it will happen in “the next 5-10 years”. This finding reflects a double-digit increase in voters’ opinions on this issue in just two years.

Notably, voters on both sides of the issue (those who favor marriage equality and those who oppose it) do not feel that allowing same-sex couples to marry will have much of an impact on them personally – 62% believe it will either have not much impact or absolutely no impact at all, and the vast majority of these voters (44% of the electorate) believe it will have absolutely no impact on their lives either way.

Below, we break down the key findings from a national poll of 800 registered voters conducted from January 24-31, 2013. Where applicable, we indicate those questions where we see an evolution on the issue in comparison to national polling we conducted in 2011.

Key Findings:

1. Voters from all political persuasions believe that the ability to marry the person you love is a Constitutional right of every American. Voters express strong support for the notion that the ability to marry the person you love is a fundamental freedom and Constitutional right for every American, including gays and lesbians. Three-quarters of voters (75%) believe that it is a Constitutional right, up from 71% in 2011. This sentiment spans across party lines, as 91% of Democrats, 75% of Independents, and 56% of Republican voters all believe the freedom to marry the person you love is a Constitutional right.

Voters are firmly rooted in the notion that the ability to marry is a right that should be provided to all people, including gay and lesbian couples. A majority feels that to deny this is discrimination.

• Allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry says you believe the principle of equal human dignity should apply to all people – 65% believe that this describes their feelings very or pretty well, including 49% of voters who believe that this describes their views very well.

• The freedom to marry is a fundamental freedom that should not be denied to anyone. Nearly two-thirds (64%) believe this describes their views towards allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry very/pretty well, including nearly half (46%) who believe it describes their views towards allowing gay and lesbian couples very well.

• Denying gays & lesbians the right to marry is considered discrimination. 59% of voters believe this describes their view very/pretty well, 45% very well.

2. An overwhelming majority of voters -- including majorities of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents -- believe that allowing same-sex couples the right to legally marry is likely to happen regardless of their personal opinion on the issue. With nine states now allowing same-sex couples to legally marry and more moving in that direction, voters almost universally believe that it will be legal nationally in the next five to ten years (83%), and 77% believe that it will be legal nationally “in the next couple of years” – regardless of their personal opinion on the issue. This represents a sizeable increase since 2011 when 72% believed it would happen in the next five to ten years, and 67% believed it would happen in “the next couple of years.” While Democratic voters feel most strongly (82% believe it will happen in the next couple years), huge margins of Independents and Republicans feel the same way (73% and 70% respectively).

3. Nearly two-thirds of voters believe that allowing same-sex couples to legally marry would not impact them. Nearly two-thirds of voters believe that that allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry would not have much impact or would have no impact on them at all. Fifteen percent (15%)believe the impact would be positive; only 19% of all voters believe that a ruling allowing gays and lesbians to legally marry would have a negative impact on them.

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted n=800 live telephone interviews with registered voters nationally, including 20% of all completes via cell phone interview. Interviews were conducted between January 24-30, 2013. Respondents were selected at random, with interviews apportioned geographically based on registration. Expected margin of sampling error for these results is +/- 3.5% with a 95% confidence level.

About the Respect for Marriage Coalition

The Respect for Marriage Coalition is a partnership of more than 80 civil rights, faith, health, labor, business, legal, LGBT, student, and women's organizations working together to end the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and grow support for the freedom to marry. The Coalition is co-chaired by Freedom to Marry and the Human Rights Campaign.

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