Most Americans oppose gay marriage, and many believe homosexuality is "against God's will," but otherwise they consider themselves tolerant of gays, according to a Los Angeles Times poll. By a margin of 55% to 41%, those polled agreed with the statement "If gays are allowed to marry, the institution of marriage will be degraded." About half favored a U.S. constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between a man and a woman, while 42% opposed it. The telephone poll of 1,616 adults around the country was conducted March 27-30. The margin of error was plus or minus three percentage points. Other recent surveys have found that at least half of Americans oppose gay marriage, but fewer support amending the Constitution to ban it. A CBS-New York Times poll last month found only 38% saying gay marriage is an "important enough issue to be worth changing the Constitution for," and an ABC-Washington Post poll found 54% saying the matter should be left to the states.
Only about a quarter of those polled for the Los Angeles Times felt gays and lesbians should be allowed to legally marry, and 38% believed they should be allowed to form civil unions. About a third said that neither type of union should be permitted. While about six in 10 people felt gay relationships are "against God's will," a similar percentage felt that legal recognition of same-sex marriages was inevitable. Sixty percent of those polled described themselves as sympathetic to gays and lesbians. About the same percentage said they would be willing to vote for an openly gay political candidate. As with most recent polls, support for the legal rights of gays and lesbians was far stronger among younger respondents and has dramatically increased overall since polls on the topic of gay rights were first conducted about a generation ago.