Majority supports benefits for same-sex couples: Reuters/Ipsos poll

Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:27am EDT
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By Maurice Tamman and Joan Biskupic

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - As the Supreme Court prepares to decide whether the federal government may deny benefits to same-sex married couples that it allows their heterosexual counterparts, Americans seem already to have made up their minds.

Fifty-five percent of those surveyed said married gay and lesbian couples should be able to qualify for Social Security survivor payments and other benefits provided to married heterosexual couples, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling of 2,886 people between March 5 and March 14.

Majority support for such benefits was seen across all regions of the United States, even in the traditionally more conservative South.

That widespread support emerges just before the Supreme Court takes up a pair of momentous gay rights cases next week, one testing whether the government may deny benefits to same-sex married couples without violating the Constitution's guarantee of equality. In the other case, the nine justices will review a California law that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.

A more extensive Reuters/Ipsos poll of 24,455 people between January 1 and March 14 found only a quarter of Americans opposed same-sex marriage or civil unions, although there were deep regional differences of opinion. Overall, that Reuters poll found 63 percent supported gay marriage or civil unions, with 41 percent of people saying same-sex couples should be permitted to marry.

The greatest support was in the Northeast, with 69 percent of adults favoring a gay marriage or civil-union right. The lowest support was in the South, at 57 percent.

Overall, surveys have shown a drop in endorsement of civil unions simultaneous to a rise in support of same-sex marriage.

LONG-TERM TREND   Continued...

Same-sex couple Frank Capley (L) and Joe Alfano listen to a speaker at City Hall in San Francisco, California February 14, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith