As Republicans and President Obama square off over the Defense of Marriage Act, a new CNN poll shows that a small majority of Americans now support legal recognition for same sex marriages.
In the poll, 51% of adult Americans said they thought same sex marriages should be recognized by law, while 47% said they should not. That’s a significant reversal from the same poll two years ago when Americans opposed same sex marriage by a 10-point spread, with 44% in favor and 54% against.
It’s the second time in as many months that a pollster has for the first time found majority support for legalizing same sex marriage. In March, a Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 53% of adults supported legalizing same sex marriage, while 44% opposed it.
The finding comes just months after the Obama administration announced that it would no longer defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) — the law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages — in court. Republicans, including some potential presidential candidates like Mike Huckabee, decried that decision, saying Obama was going against public opinion. But recent polls show Americans are steadily growing more supportive of legal recognition for same sex couples.
In addition to the CNN and Washington Post/ABC News surveys, Pew has also shown support for DOMA eroding in the past few years. In a 2009 Pew poll, 54% of adults said same sex marriage should be illegal, versus only 37% who said it should be legal. One month ago, that split had shrunk to 46% opposed and 45% in favor.
Republicans have hired Paul Clement, a Bush-era Solicitor General to defend the law on behalf of Congress.
The CNN poll was conducted April 9-10 among 824 adults nationwide. It has a margin of error of 3.5%.