A new poll shows a majority of Americans do not want state laws that would make same-sex marriage legal.
The survey was taken after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said last Wednesday in an advisory opinion same-sex couples are entitled to marriage and not an alternative, such as Vermont-style civil unions. Only full and equal marriage rights will fulfill its November ruling, four of the seven judges said, paving the way for the nation’s first “gay” weddings in mid-May.
The high court decided Nov. 18 homosexual couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution. However, the 4-3 November ruling stopped short of declaring homosexual couples should be granted the license, ordering the state legislature to come up with a solution within 180 days. Last week’s opinion was a response to a request by the state Senate about whether civil unions, which accord many of the rights and privileges of marriage, would be sufficient.
According to the new poll, Americans are against any law legalizing same-sex marriage by a 2-1 margin, 60 percent to 31 percent.
The survey by the National Annenberg Election Survey showed less support, however, for a federal constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.
The poll indicated 49 percent are opposed to such an amendment and 42 percent are in favor.
In their advisory opinion, the four justices who ruled in favor of same-sex marriage wrote: “The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal. The bill that would allow for civil unions, but falls short of marriage, makes for “unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.”
With the ruling, the Massachusetts legislature is now set to consider an amendment legally defining marriage as between one man and one woman.
However, a constitutional amendment could not be brought before a vote of the people until 2006.
Last week, Ohio became the 38th state to pass a law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.
“We’ve heard from the court, but not from the people,” Gov. Mitt Romney said in a statement last week. “The people of Massachusetts should not be excluded from a decision as fundamental to our society as the definition of marriage.”
Some state Republican chairmen who met at the Republican National Committee in Washington one week ago said they want the White House and the Bush re-election campaign to put more emphasis on the president’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
“It’s clearly important to our base, along with the president’s tax cuts that helped the economy recover nationally,” Virginia state Chairman Kate O. Griffin told the Washington Times.
President Bush’s spokesman, Scott McClellan, said today the White House is reviewing the issue but indicated an amendment might be necessary.
“If activist judges continue to try to redefine marriage, without regard to the voice of the people, then the only alternative will be a constitutional process,” he said.
Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic front-runner for president, said last week he is opposed to same-sex marriage.
“I believe and have fought for the principle that we should protect the fundamental rights of gay and lesbian couples – from inheritance to health benefits,” he said. “I believe the right answer is civil unions. I oppose gay marriage and disagree with the Massachusetts court’s decision.”
Last month, a Zogby International poll showed a majority of Massachusetts residents oppose the high court’s November decision.
The survey also indicated most respondents favor a constitutional amendment to protect matrimony as the union of one man and one woman.
According to the Zogby poll, 69 percent of respondents wanted to vote on an amendment to keep Massachusetts a traditional marriage state. Also, 52 percent vs. 42 percent agreed only marriage between one man and one woman should be legal and binding in America.
Additionally, more than two-thirds, or 69 percent, believed it is better for children to be raised in a household with a married mother and father.
“It seems the more people consider the long-term impact of homosexual marriage on the family and society, the more they oppose homosexual marriage,” said Ron Crews, spokesman for the Coalition for Marriage, a non-partisan state and nationwide alliance of supporters of traditional marriage.
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