A national voter survey released on Feb. 19 finds increasing public opposition to the U.S. Defense of Marriage Act, which was signed into law in 1996 and faces a Supreme Court challenge this spring.
There are two basic elements to DOMA. One provision allows states to decide whether to recognize same-sex marriages that are legal in other states. The other bars the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and thus requires the U.S. government to deny married gay couples more than 1,000 rights and benefits. This second element of DOMA is the subject of the challenge before the Supreme Court, which also will hear a case against an anti-gay marriage amendment in March.
“When the Defense of Marriage act was enacted into law in 1996, no one envisioned that nine states would have legalized, or be in the process of legalizing, marriage equality for same-sex couples. Today the law deprives thousands of loving and committed same-sex couples the federal benefits and protections that are afforded to all other married people,” said Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress. “This poll confirms that a majority of Americans disagree with the inherent unfairness in giving only some legally married couples the benefits that go hand in hand with these unions.”
Conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and Voter Consumer Research, the poll shows:
• Sixty-two percent of registered voters agreed “it is discrimination for the federal government to deny marriage protections and benefits to legally married same-sex couples.”
• More than 70 percent of voters said all couples should have hospital visitation rights, survivor benefits if a spouse is killed in the line of duty, and family and medical leave.
The poll also shows that 52 percent of voters favor legalizing same-sex marriage.
Another poll released on Feb. 19 found that a growing bipartisan majority of registered voters support marriage rights. Three-quarters of voters believe that the freedom to marry is a constitutional right and an even higher 83 percent believe that marriage for same-sex couples will become legal nationwide in the next decade, according to the survey from the Respect for Marriage Coalition.