Survey: Support for Gay Civil Unions Grows to 57 Percent

Even as the nation moves right on other social issues, 57 percent of Americans are OK with such unions.

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By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country

Americans elect a socially liberal president, and—for the first time in recent years—most Americans say they oppose abortion rights. The cause and effect may seem pretty obvious.

But following that logic, most Americans would lurch rightward on gay rights, too, so that fewer would be expected to support civil unions than did a few years back. However, a new Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey shows that just the opposite has happened:

A clear majority of Americans (57%) favors allowing gay and lesbian couples to enter into legal agreements with each other that would give them many of the same rights as married couples, a status commonly known as civil unions. This finding marks a slight uptick in support for civil unions and appears to continue a significant long-term trend since the question was first asked in Pew Research Center surveys in 2003, when support for civil unions stood at 45%.

Check out this graph tracking the trend:

At the same time, most Americans continue to oppose gay marriage, with 53 percent against it and 39 percent in favor. Here's the graph on that trend line:

Read the full survey report here.

Source for graphs: Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion and Public Life, © 2009, Pew Research Center. Reprinted with the permission of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, www.pewforum.org.

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