NEW YORK, N.Y. - Nearly two-thirds of Americans expect the Supreme Court to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide when it rules on the issue within the next few weeks, according to a new poll.
Only 25 per cent expect the high court to leave existing state bans on gay marriage intact, while 65 per cent expect the bans to be overturned, according to the poll conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute. Its nationwide survey of 1,009 adults was conducted from June 3 to June 7.
Mirroring the findings of several other recent national polls, the new survey found 55 per cent of Americans in favour of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, and 37 per cent opposed.
Among those who oppose same-sex marriage, 72 per cent say the decision about its legality should be made at the state level. Among those who favour same-sex marriage, 59 per cent say the issue should be decided at the national level. At the moment, same-sex marriages are allowed in 36 states.
The survey found sharp divisions over same-sex marriage along religious lines. Majorities of religiously unaffiliated Americans (79 per cent), white mainline Protestants (60 per cent) and Catholics (58 per cent) favour allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. But gay marriage was supported by only 29 per cent of white evangelical Protestants and 35 per cent of nonwhite Protestants.
The survey also asked about perceptions of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Three-quarters of Democrats, 61 per cent of independents and 50 per cent of Republicans said there is a lot of discrimination against transgender people.
Overall, 69 per cent of Americans — including 65 per cent of Republicans and 60 per cent of white evangelical Protestants — said they favoured laws that would protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing.
And 60 per cent of Americans opposed allowing small business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians, even if it violates their religious beliefs. This opposition included 64 per cent of Catholics, 63 per cent of nonwhite Protestants and 59 per cent of white mainline Protestants. Among white evangelical Protestants, 51 per cent supported allowing small business owners to refuse service to gays and lesbians on religious grounds.
According to the survey, 65 per cent of Americans report having a close friend or family member who is gay or lesbian. Only 11 per cent reported having a close friend or family member who is transgender.
The survey consisted of telephone interviews — half conducted on cellphones — among a random sample of adults. The research institute said the margin of error for the survey was plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
Link to survey: