A new CBS News/New York Times Poll shows a solid majority of Americans support legal recognition for same-sex couples – though not necessarily through the official act of marriage – and the number of people who do support full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples is significantly higher among younger generations.
Overall, 38 percent of those who responded to the survey said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, just like any other couple. Another 24 percent said civil unions should be used to grant same-sex couples legal rights similar to male-female partnerships. Combined, that means 62 percent – close to two thirds – of Americans believe that same-sex unions should be recognized by law.
Of all those who participated, 33 percent said there should be no legal recognition for same-sex couples. One of the most striking figures revealed by the survey comes when the responses are broken down by age. Americans between the ages of 18 and 44 are far more likely than people 45 and older to support full marriage rights for same-sex couples.
While the number of those in younger generations who completely oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples remains nearly identical to the larger population – about a third in total – far more people from this subgroup favor full marriage rights over civil unions.
Of all the 18- to 44-year-olds who participated in the poll, 53 percent said same-sex couples should be granted full marriage rights. And while almost a quarter of the entire population feels civil unions are more appropriate, as stated above, that number shrinks to just 17 percent when the younger group is looked at in isolation. Thirty percent of those between 18 and 44 said no legal recognition was appropriate.
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