Who Supports Gay-Rights Issues?

A new poll from Quinnipiac University gives us a decidedly mixed picture of gay rights issues, reporting widespread opposition to gay marriage (55 percent to 38 percent), support for civil unions (57 percent to 38 percent), and opposition to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy (56 percent to 37 percent).

The military question offers a pretty striking sub-statistic: a vast majority of respondents in military households don't think openly gay men and women would be divisive for the military (though I haven't seen a breakdown on whether most respondents were servicemen/women themselves, or whether they were wives, husbands, children, etc.)

There are some interesting underpinnings here to mine, rendering a picture of what kinds of people fall on the "pro" side of gay-rights issues. Quinnipiac tells us it's women (who are six to 15 points more likely to support gay-rights issues than men), young people (53 percent of 18-34 year olds support gay marriage), Jews (81 percent support gay marriage), people who know someon who is gay (group is split on marriage, but supports civil unions while the "no" group doesn't), and people with college degrees (support gay marriage 50 percent to 45 percent).

Philosophically, people are more likely to support gay-rights issues if they think people are born gay or straight (65 percent back gay marriage), while those who think homosexuality is a choice are much less likely (15 percent support gay marriage).

So, in sum, groups that are more likely to vote liberal, plus people who know someone is gay.

One encouraging statistic for gay-rights advocates: 59 percent of Democrats think ending discrimination against gays is as necessary today as ending discrimination against blacks was in the 1960s. Republicans don't share that view, but a total of 44 percent of Americans think that's the case, according to the poll.

(The poll was conducted April 21-27, 2,041 registered voters nationwide, margin of error was +/- 2.2 percentage points.)

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Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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