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Poll: Support for gay marriage declines

By Associated Press | China Daily | Updated: 2014-09-24 07:11

A survey from the Pew Research Center indicates support for same-sex marriage in the US could be leveling off after several years of dramatic growth in the acceptance of equal rights for gays and lesbians.

The study's authors caution that it's too soon to draw any definitive conclusions. But the new poll released on Monday found a 5 percentage point drop since February, from 54 percent to 49 percent, in the number of people who want to see legal recognition for same-sex relationships.

The poll of 2,002 adults, conducted from Sept 2 to 9, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percentage points.

"Since we've seen this upward trend for so long, we're cautious because it's too early to say what this means for long-term trends," said Jessica Martinez, a researcher in Pew's Religion and Public Life Project. "As we continue to ask this question in other surveys, we'll keep an eye on where this moves."

The findings were part of a survey in which nearly three-quarters of Americans said religious influence in public life was waning, and most saw that as a negative trend.

About half of respondents said churches and houses of worship should speak out more on public issues.

Nearly half of all respondents said businesses that provide services for weddings, such as florists, should be allowed to deny service to same-sex couples if the owners have religious objections.

The survey also found the percentage of people who consider gay relationships sinful had increased from 45 percent a year ago to 50 percent last month, although other surveys have found that people with religious objections don't always oppose legal recognition for gay relationships.

The campaign for recognition of gay marriage has grown into a broad mass movement supported in recent years by a majority in the US.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage, while petitions for recognition in several other states are moving through the courts.

The Gallup organization said support for gay marriage first rose above the 50 percent mark in its surveys in 2011, and has remained above half since.

Gallup's latest survey, in May, found acceptance of gay marriage at a new high of 55 percent.

But the group's researchers found support was increasing by smaller margins than it had during the era of fastest growth so far, between 2009 and 2011.

Robert Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, a nonprofit group that conducts surveys on religion and public life, noted that support for gay marriage has been driven by younger people, who tend to be far more accepting of same-sex relationships than their parents.

He said polling by his organization over the summer showed fluctuations in support, but backing remained between 56 and 51 percent.



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