Poll illuminates Americans’ views on same-sex marriage: It’s complicated

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How do Americans feel about gay marriage? According to a new poll by the Associated Press and the National Constitution Center, it’s complicated. Statistical data can often give us a black-and-white assessment of an issue, but when it comes to same-sex marriage, even the cold hard numbers reveal a multitude of gray areas.

Those who support gay marriage will be heartened to hear that of a national sampling of 1,000 adults over age 18 polled between Aug. 19 and Aug. 22, 53% said the government should give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex. Essentially the same percentage of people gave that response in 2010, but that’s up 7 percentage points from 2009.


Interactive: Track changes in rights for same-sex couples

Another piece of good news for the pro-gay-marriage camp: 57% of people polled think that same-sex couples should be entitled to the same government benefits as married couples of the opposite sex.

But there’s plenty in the poll for opponents of gay marriage to applaud as well. For example, the poll found that 48% of respondents would favor a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, while only 43% of respondents said they would oppose it.

Pollsters also found that 55% of those polled think decisions about who can marry whom should be made at the state level, while 39% say it should be up to the federal government to decide.

As you may recall, we are heading into a presidential race next year, and you can bet the issue of gay marriage is bound to come up. Individuals may know where they stand on this issue, but as a country, we still have a lot of grappling to do.


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