Half of Americans say gay marriage is a constitutional right

June 6

The rainbow flag symbolizing gay pride flies from a pole in Manhattan. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Support for gay marriage has backed away slightly from its record high in March, but a solid majority  supports it, and half go so far as to say that it is a right protected by the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

A full 50 percent say gay marriage is protected by the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause, an argument repeated by judge after judge in a string of federal rulings against state bans since a pivotal Supreme Court decision last summer. Some 43 percent do not believe gay marriage enjoys constitutional protection. Support for gay marriage overall — regardless of views on whether it is constitutionally protected — enjoys broader support, with 56 percent saying they back the right for same-sex couples to marry and 38 percent opposing it.

(Washington Post)
(Washington Post)

In states that  ban same-sex marriage, opinions tilt narrowly in support, 50 percent to 44 percent opposed. Opinions in these states are even more closely divided on whether or not it is a constitutional right, with 45 percent saying it is protected and 48 percent saying it is not. That includes the handful of states where federal court decisions against gay marriage bans are pending appeal. In states where gay marriage is allowed, 64 percent support it and 56 percent see it as a right.

Most demographic and political groups support gay marriage. Republicans continue to oppose it, but the GOP (and independents who lean GOP) are fractured by age. Republicans under 50 lean in support while those 50 and over oppose it. 

Voters rate gay marriage lower than a host of other priorities, suggesting weak political consequences for 2014. Only a third rate the issue as an important voting priority. And those who do largely support Democratic candidates.

Click the map below to view our interactive of where gay marriage stands in every state.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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