Almost half of all Americans support banning gay marriage by constitutional amendment, although most feel the issue should be dealt with at the state level, according to a new poll.
The constitutional amendment option would define marriage as legally between a man and a woman, and 48 percent said they would favor such a move outlawing same-sex marriage, the Associated Press poll revealed. Slightly less than half of the respondents — 40 percent — strongly favor a constitutional amendment, while 43 percent said they oppose banning same-sex marriage constitutionally.
But most say it should be the states, not the federal government, setting policy on the issue of gay marriage. Just over half, or 55 percent, say gay marriage is a matter for the states, while 39 percent say the federal government should be in charge.
But people are divided on whether their state should permit same-sex marriage, with 42 percent in favor and 45 percent opposed. Almost half of the respondents — 47 percent — told the pollsters they supported state laws allowing same-sex civil unions, while 38 percent say they oppose that option.
More than half of all Americans say same-sex couples should receive the same government benefits as married couples of the opposite sex, with 57 percent in support and 40 percent against it. The poll also found that about the same number of respondents as last year — 53 percent — believe the government should give legal recognition to same-sex marriages, while 44 percent are opposed.
North Carolina voters will get a chance to weigh in on a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in May 2012, after the state House and Senate approved the legislation appearing on the ballot earlier this week.
Just 20 percent of Americans polled think a law legalizing gay marriage will pass in their state.
The AP poll was conducted from Aug. 18-22 and surveyed 1,000 adults.
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