Americans in most religious categories want laws to define marriage as between a man and a woman, with support among black Protestants virtually as high as among white evangelical Protestants, according to a survey issued Thursday.
The 4,000 respondents chose among three options: legal status only for heterosexual marriage (55 percent of the total sample in favor), legalized civil unions (18 percent) or legalized same-sex marriage (27 percent).
The wording did not refer specifically to the proposed Constitutional amendment backed by President Bush and many Republicans and religious conservatives.
The only groups giving majority backing to same-sex marriage were Jews (55 percent), white Catholics identified as “modernist” in belief (51 percent), followers of faiths other than Judaism or Christianity (50 percent) and the growing category of those with no religious affiliation (50 percent).
There was plurality support for man-woman marriage among white “mainline” Protestants (47 percent) and of only 48 percent among white Roman Catholics _ despite strong stands by the Vatican and U.S. bishops. But support reached 52 percent among Latino Catholics, 71 percent among Latino Protestants, 72 percent among black Protestants and 75 percent among white evangelical Protestants.
John C. Green of the University of Akron, who directed the survey for the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, said Republicans need to be cautious on the issue, however. The reason: A 57 percent majority of Americans said yes on a more general question of whether homosexuals should “have the same rights as other Americans.”
The survey also showed that since the 1996 campaign, belief that abortion should only be legal “in few circumstances” or not at all has moved from minority to slight majority status among black Protestants (54 percent) and Latino Catholics (57 percent) and increased to 69 percent among evangelical Protestants.
The margin of error for the entire sample was plus or minus 2 percentage points, but higher to varying degrees with the breakdowns of smaller groups.
(RNB temp. editor note: see The PEW Forum on Religion & Public Life for complete data).
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