Shifting Political Winds
Americans’ are less discontent with the federal government but no more ready for political compromise. Views of Congress remain heavily negative, while Obama’s ratings stay positive. On social issues, the public is, for the first time, evenly split on gay marriage, while support for legal abortion, legalized marijuana — but not gun control — have all risen.
Mixed Views on Tax Cuts, Support for START and Allowing Gays to Serve Openly
With the public giving subpar approval ratings to President Obama and continuing to express negative views of Congress and the political parties, it goes its own way on many of the remaining issues before the lame-duck Congress.
Most Continue to Favor Gays Serving Openly in Military
Large majorities of Democrats and independents favor allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the armed forces. Republicans are divided, but among conservative Republicans, far more oppose than favor allowing gays to serve openly.
Gay Marriage Gains More Acceptance
For the first time in 15 years of Pew Research Center polling, fewer than half oppose same-sex marriage, though, support (42%) remains below opposition (48%). The shift in favor of gay marriage has been broad-based, occurring across many demographic, political and religious groups.
Religious Beliefs and Political Issues
Religious beliefs continue to be influential in shaping some Americans’ views about social issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. Far fewer cite religion as a top influence on issues such as immigration, the environment and poverty.
Federal Court Strikes Down California Same-Sex Marriage Ban
A federal district court judge struck down California’s ban on gay marriage, ruling that the prohibition violates the U.S. Constitution. The decision, which is expected to be appealed, represents the first time a federal judge has ruled that the U.S. Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Rights of Conscience vs. Civil Rights
New “conscience protection” cases have emerged in the health care area expanding the debate beyond abortion and birth control to discrimination protection for certain groups, notably gays and lesbians.
Gay Rights: An Audience Online
While gay marriage accounted for less than 0.1% of the newshole in the mainstream press, it was the No.1 story in the blogosphere.
Most Still Oppose Gay Marriage, but Support for Civil Unions Continues to Rise
A 57% majority of Americans support civil unions, continuing a long-term trend of increasing support, but a majority still opposes same-sex marriage. The issue continues to sharply divide religious and political groups.
A Clash of Rights? Gay Marriage and the Free Exercise of Religion
Although churches and other religious organizations, including charities and schools, have typically been exempt from state and local laws prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation, it remains unclear how these institutions might be affected by new laws that require equal treatment for same-sex marriages.