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Poll: Opposition
to same-sex marriage on the decline

Poll: Opposition
to same-sex marriage on the decline

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The public backlash over same-sex marriage has receded since a controversial decision by the Massachusetts supreme court in 2003 to legalize those marriages stirred strong opposition, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The public backlash over same-sex marriage has receded since a controversial decision by the Massachusetts supreme court in 2003 to legalize those marriages stirred strong opposition, according to a poll released Wednesday. Same-sex marriage remains a divisive issue, however, with 51% opposing it, the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press in Washington found. But almost two thirds--63%--opposed same-sex marriage in February 2004. "Most Americans still oppose gay marriage, but the levels of opposition are down, and the number of strong opponents is down," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center. "This has some implications for the midterm elections if this trend is maintained. There are gay marriage ballot initiatives in numerous states." Same-sex marriage got intense media coverage in 2004 after the Massachusetts court case, the decision by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom to issue thousands of marriage licenses to gay couples, and similar cases. But the intense focus on same-sex marriage has declined in the past year. In 2004 opponents of same-sex marriage were able to pass ballot initiatives banning the practice in 13 states, from Georgia to Oregon. Those initiatives also helped conservatives rally their voters to the polls. The number of people who say they strongly oppose same-sex marriage has dropped from 42% in early 2004 to 28% now. Strong opposition has dropped sharply among senior citizens and Republicans. People are now evenly split on allowing adoptions by gay couples, and six in 10 now favor allowing gays to serve openly in the military. Legal challenges of laws on same-sex marriage could result in more court decisions that stir public opinion, but this midterm election year is starting with far less public anxiety about one of the nation's most volatile social issues. The telephone poll of 1,405 adults was conducted March 8-12 and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points. (AP)

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