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Topics In the News
Poll Finds Hefty Majority of Americans Oppose DOMA
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 02/19/13
Last updated on: 02/19/13
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GLAD civil rights director Mary Bonauto.

A poll released on February 19, 2013 finds that 59% of Americans oppose the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The poll, commissioned by the Center for American Progress (CAP) and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), found that a larger percentage of Americans oppose DOMA than support marriage equality itself. Another poll released on February 19 has found that a large majority of Americans, including many who oppose same-sex marriage, believe that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right and will soon be legal nationally.

Chris Johnson reports in the Washington Blade that the CAP and GLAD poll, conducted by Goodwin Smith Strategic Research and Voter Consumer Research, asked registered voters several questions about DOMA and other issues.

In addition to asking directly about DOMA, the poll asked respondents in a more abstract way whether they believe it is discriminatory for the federal government to deny benefits to married same-sex couples. Sixty-two percent of registered voters said they believe withholding such benefits is discrimination.

Notably, the poll found that whereas only 52% of registered voters are in favor of marriage equality, 59% of them oppose DOMA. The finding may indicate a states-rights approach to policy, in which some people who oppose granting same-sex couples the right to marry in their state nevertheless believe that same-sex marriages performed in other states should be recognized by the federal government.

The poll also broke down views on the denial of certain rights and benefits. More than a majority supported awarding each of these rights and benefits to married same-sex couples.

The right that the greater number of respondents said same-sex couples should enjoy is hospital visitation. A full 78% said the federal government should not deny married gay people from seeing their spouse in the hospital.

The benefit that the smallest percentage of respondents supported for same-sex couples was Social Security benefits in case of the death of the spouse. Even so, 66 percent said the federal government should not deny these benefits.

Mary Bonauto, GLAD's civil rights director, said that she is not surprised that a majority of the American public opposes DOMA given the harm the anti-gay law inflicts on same-sex couples.

"With each passing day, more and more Americans are learning how DOMA denies important marital protections and heaps disrespect on married same-sex couples across the country--and they're saying, 'Enough is enough,'" Bonauto said. "It's not surprising that a majority of this country now believes that loving, committed couples in legal marriages should be treated fairly under federal law. It's time for our laws to catch up with where public opinion is on abolishing DOMA."

Winnie Stachelberg, executive vice president at the Center for American Progress, said the poll should influence Supreme Court justices' thinking as they consider the anti-gay law this session.

"The findings of this poll should provide significant headwinds to LGBT advocates and allies and demonstrate to the Court that the thinking behind DOMA is outdated and indefensible," Stachelberg said.

On the same day the DOMA poll was made public, the Respect for Marriage Coalition, a partnership of glbtq groups and others working to advance marriage equality, issued another poll that found promising results for marriage equality.

According to this poll, conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, a growing bipartisan majority of registered voters believe that all Americans, including gay men and lesbians, should have the constitutional right to marry the person they love.

The poll found that 75 percent of respondents believe same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, which is up from 71 percent in 2011. Additionally, 77 percent said they believe same-sex marriage will be legal nationally "in the next couple of years" regardless of their personal views on the issue.

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