Below the cut, you will find more information on the poll & my totally amateur analysis of the information I found. The charts & the words are not the most professional things you will ever see, but I hope it helps to explain why I find more hope every day that fate (or, your own personal version thereof) is definitely on the side of the good guys (and gals) in this struggle. P.S. If you want to take a closer look at the charts included in the article behind the cut, just make clicky on them to increase their size.
One interesting aspect of these polls, for me, is that while there has been this slow but sure increase in the acceptance of the idea of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples,there has been a corresponding decrease in the proportion of Americans who support either civil unions (down by 6% in the same 5-year period) or who want no legal recognition at all for committed same-sex relationships (down by 5%). According to my handy, dandy Texas Instruments calculator, 6 + 5 = 11, which is the amount of increase in those who believe in providing equal marriage rights to gay & lesbian Americans.
The “Unsure”s remain at about 5% of the population.
While a plurality of those surveyed in March 2009 support no legal recognition of same-gender relationships (35%), those who support either full marriage rights (33%) or civil unions (27%) comprise a majority of those surveyed (33% + 27% = 60%). While the exact numbers have certainly shifted in these past 5 years, the facts for 2004 were still the same: 40% wanted no recognition of same-sex relationships; 22% wanted full legal marriage, and 33% supported civil unions. So, obviously even 5 years ago, more Americans supported SOME sort of legal recognition for these relationships (55%) than those who don’t (40%). The same, of course, is true today, but the poll seems to indicate that the public is, generally-speaking, is in the throes of a collective change of heart & mind where some sort of legal recognition of same-sex relationships is concerned.
If we take a look at a more detailed break-down of those who have been surveyed & where they stand on this issue, we see what many other polls have also shown: that the younger the person, the more accepting the person is of the idea of legal marriage or civil unions for same-sex couples. Those identified in the poll as between the ages of 18 and 45 were supportive of legal recognition of some sort for same-sex couples by a 2 to 1 margin, 64% (41% marriage + 23% civil union) to 32%. While a majority of the next age group (45-64) also supports legal recognition, the youngest group in the survey was the only age group where MORE people support full marriage than civil unions. Those aged 45-64 support civil unions over full marriage by a 32 to 29% margin (with 35% wanting no legal recognition at all). For the oldest Americans (aged 65 and over), 45% (18% for marriage; 27% for civil unions) support legal recognition while the biggest response (47%) was for no legal recognition at all.
Not surprising to me at all is the fact that the March 2009 poll shows that more women (64%) support legal recognition than do men (55%), though obviously a majority of both support some sort of legal recognition. The poll shows that 12% more women support marriage over civil unions (38% vs. 26%); whereas, with men, slightly more men favor civil union than legal marriage (27% vs. 28%). In spite of those numbers, a plurality of the men surveyed want no legal recognition at all for same-sex relationships (42%); this compares with 30% of women who favor no legal relationship recognition (8 points less than the percentage of women who support full marriage).
Where political affiliation (or, lack thereof) is concerned, Democrats in general seem to be more in tune with the overall population than Republicans. Overall, a third of all poll respondents were in favor of equal marriage rights. Forty-six percent of those who self-identified as Democrats support equal marriage rights (13% more than the general population),while only 6% of self-identified Republicans agree with equal marriage rights (27% LESS than the general population). Thirty-seven percent of Independents favor equal marriage rights (4% more than the average).
With civil unions, 27% of all those surveyed support civil unions for same-sex couples, while 23% of Democrats do (4% less than the average); thirty-four percent of Republicans support civil unions (7% more than average); political Independents came closest to the average in this area, nearly duplicating the overall average of 27% (compared to 26% of Independents).
Overall, 35% of those surveyed see no legal recognition for same-sex couples, which is 5% more than Independents, 9% more than Democrats, and 24% LESS than Republicans, the majority (59%) of whom want no legal recognition of committed same-sex couples.
It’s also interesting to note that Republicans seem to be more firmly set in their ideas than Democrats or Independents: 5% & 7% of Democrats & Independents, respectively, said they were unsure of how they felt about the subject, while only 1% of Republicans said they were unsure. Overall, 5% of all poll respondents had no opinion.
While the overall population has become generally more accepting of equal marriage rights between the last 2 polls in May 2008 and March 2009 (58% for marriage or civil unions in 2008 vs. 60% in 2009), it is telling that Republican support of equal marriage rights between May 2008 & March 2009 fell by over half (from 14% in 2008 to 6% in 2009); also, the percentage of Republicans wanting no legal recognition of same-sex relationships increased from 50% in 2008 to 59% in 2009. Even though there was a slight 2% increase amongst Republicans supporting same-sex civil unions during this time frame (32% vs 34%), overall, the overall numbers appear to indicate a more conservative leaning on this issue in the current GOP, whereas the opposite trend appears to be taking place amongst Democrats (whose support of equal marriage rights INCREASED by 10% in the same time frame ) and Independents (whose support of equal marriage rights increased by 3%).
The 10% increase in full marriage rights by Democrats appears to have come from a corresponding decrease in support for civil unions (a 4% decrease) and from Democrats who supported no legal recognition at all (a 6% decrease).
The 3% increase from Independents for equal marriage rights appears to have come from a decrease in those Independents who wanted no legal recognition (down by 1%) and those who were previously unsure (down by 2%).
Finally, comparing the survey results from the first poll listed (which took place in March, 2004), overall support for legal marriage is half-again as high 5 years later (22% in 2004 vs. 33% in 2009).
Support for civil unions 5 years later has actually DECREASED from 33% to 27%. The same holds true for the “No Legal Recognition” opinion, down by 5% points from 40% then to 35% now. Those who are unsure still account for 5% of the population. Considering the only increase in all these categories has been in support of full “Legal Marriage”, the decrease in support for civil unions appears to indicate that most people who may have accepted civil unions in the past have now evolved their thinking & now support full marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Full results of the polls in question can be found at Polling Report.com.