Ahead of a pair of upcoming Supreme Court rulings that could impact the right for gay couples to marry, a new survey shows a majority of Americans support a judgment made based on the Constitution rather than allowing states to decide for themselves.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll, 56 percent say same-sex marriage should be legal or illegal based on the U.S. Constitution, compared to 36 percent who disagree. The poll also said 50 percent of voters support allowing gay marriage versus 41 percent who oppose it, a vast difference from a similar poll taken in 2008, when 55 percent of people opposed gay marriage and only 36 percent supported it.
Activists on both sides of the issue said they are confident that Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage would support their position.
"It says to the court right now that America is not 50 separate kingdoms in which every family has to fight for itself, state by state, year by year," says Evan Wolfson, president of the pro-gay marriage group Freedom to Marry.
"The core argument made on both days by the anti-gay lawyers really boiled down to delay for delay's sake, 'hit the pause button,'" he adds. "They didn't have a real good reason, they just asked the court to take it's time. The people are saying, 'No, it's your job, uphold the Constitution.'"
Frank Schubert, political director for the National Organization for Marriage, a group that opposes gay marriage, expressed equal confidence that a Supreme Court ruling would favor his group's position.
"NOM believes that there is no right to same-sex marriage in the federal constitution," he said in an email. "Should the Supreme Court create one, we would favor a national marriage amendment to correct such a ruling."
More than 30 states have passed measures outlawing gay marriage, but it's legal in nine states. During the most recent election, pro-gay marriage measures won in all four states they were on the ballot, marking the first time a majority of voters approved gay marriage.
The Supreme Court is expected to hand down rulings in the pair of same-sex marriage cases in June.