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PolitiFact: Recent polls back up claim of more support for gay marriage

The statement

Says the majority of Americans support gay marriage.

Anne Hathaway, in a letter she and other celebrities wrote to President Barack Obama

The ruling

Jackie Yodashkin, a spokeswoman for Freedom to Marry, backed up the claim by pointing us toward two polls.

The first was a poll conducted by the Associated Press in August 2010 that asked the question, "Should the Federal Government give legal recognition to marriages between couples of the same sex, or not?"

It was supported by 52 percent and opposed by 46 percent. The percentages were nearly the reverse in a poll the year before.

The second was a CNN poll, also in August 2010, in which 52 percent responded "yes" to the question, "Do you think gays and lesbians should have a constitutional right to get married and have their marriage recognized by law as valid?"

But the results differed slightly depending how the question was asked. Half got a question that read "should have" right to marry and the other half was asked if gay people "have" a right to marry. The "should" version produced a 52-46 majority in favor of gay marriage, while the "have a right" question produced a 49-51 majority against.

Other polls show growing support for gay marriage, but less than a majority, including one by Pew Research Center in March. A review of the totality of recent polls suggests that "opinion has moved, but it is not a majority sentiment yet," said Karlyn Bowman, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Then, on Friday, a Washington Post-ABC News poll also found that a slim majority now supports gay marriage.

According to the Post story about it, "The results underscore the nation's increasingly tolerant views about homosexuals, and parallel a string of recent legal and legislative victories for gay rights advocates."

"Five years ago, at 36 percent, support for gay marriage barely topped a third of all Americans," the story states. "Now, 53 percent say gay marriage should be legal, marking the first time in Post-ABC polling that a majority has said so."

The bottom line is that most of the polls taken in 2010 and 2011 show that while there is a clear trend in recent years toward support for gay marriage, it is still not quite yet a majority. But there are some polls that have found the tipping point has been reached, and that a slim majority now support gay marriage. And that includes the newest poll, from the Washington Post and ABC News. And so we rate the claim Mostly True.

This ruling has been edited for print. For more rulings, go to PolitiFact.com.

PolitiFact: Recent polls back up claim of more support for gay marriage 03/18/11 [Last modified: Friday, March 18, 2011 9:51pm]
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