A new survey that examined several key issues likely to have a bearing on the 2004 election shows diminished opposition to gay marriage in the United States. The poll was conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Religious divisions over several issues could play a significant role in the 2004 campaign, the survey suggested, and a potentially volatile issue is gay marriage. In June the Supreme Court threw out a Texas law that prohibited acts of sodomy between gays and lesbians in a private home, saying such a prohibition violates the defendants' privacy rights under the Constitution. The landmark ruling angered many conservatives and prompted several congressional Republicans to call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriages.
The survey found that opposition to gay marriage has diminished since 1996. Then, 65% opposed gay marriage; the poll showed that a majority still are against it, but the number is 53%, with 38% supporting it. The shift in support has occurred in most demographic groups, except for white evangelical Christians and blacks. Among white evangelicals, 83% oppose gay marriage. White mainline
Protestants were almost evenly split, with 45% supporting it and 44% against. Roman Catholics also were split, with 47% favoring it and 41% against.