February 19, 2013

Two new polls out today show that support for marriage equality and rejection of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are on the rise. President Obama hasn’t said whether same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Yet an overwhelming majority of Americans believes that they do.

According to a poll conducted for the Respect for Marriage Coalition, “Three-quarters of voters (75%) believe that [same-sex marriage] is a Constitutional right.” This is up four points since 2011. Also, such support “spans across party lines.”

Democrats: 91 percent
Independents: 75 percent
Republican: 56 percent

Meanwhile, an overwhelming majority of Americans (83 percent), “regardless of their personal opinion on the issue,” believes that same-sex marriage will be legal nationally “in the next five to 10 years.” The number drops to 77 percent for those who believe marriage equality will go national “in the next couple of years.” The only way marriage equality can go national is if DOMA is repealed either by a ruling of the Supreme Court or by Congress.

What makes DOMA especially egregious is Section 3, which defines “marriage” as between one man and one woman and “spouse” as someone of the opposite gender. Because of this, federal law does not recognize legally married same-sex couples. Thus, they are denied Social Security survivor benefits among the more than 1,100 other rights and benefits enjoyed by heterosexual married couples.

A national survey released Tuesday that was conducted on behalf of the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) revealed that 59 percent of registered voters “oppose” Section 3 of DOMA.

(Center for American Progress)
(Center for American Progress)

What that chart also shows is the sizable opposition to Section 3 among people of color. While 57 percent of whites were opposed, the numbers jumped to 65 percent among African Americans and 61 percent among Hispanics.

I should point out that 52 percent of those surveyed by CAP-GLAD support marriage equality. That mirrors a Post-ABC News poll from November that showed 51 percent support. But when respondents in the CAP-GLAD poll were asked if “it is discrimination for the federal government to deny marriage protections and benefits to legally married same-sex couples,” 62 percent said yes.

(Center for American Progress)
(Center for American Progress)

That’s a wonderful number to see. That shows that even folks who don’t support a same-sex couple’s right to marry see clearly the discrimination that couple suffers under DOMA. The best way to end this second-class citizenship is to get rid of DOMA. Anything other than that is just nibbling around the edges.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.