By Kim Geiger Tribune Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON —The American public increasingly favors allowing same-sex marriage, but most of the country’s representatives in Congress are not convinced.
A new survey by the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign found that just 34 percent of House and Senate members support same-sex marriage while 44 percent oppose and 23 percent have unknown or unclear positions.
The survey gauged each member’s views on the issue by asking if the member believed same-sex couples should have the right to marry. It also took into account public statements and legislative actions that could indicate a member’s position.
As is to be expected, Democrats were far more supportive than Republicans. Just one Republican in Congress, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, openly supports same-sex marriage. Seventy-two percent of Democrats support it, while 9 percent oppose and 19 percent are unclear.
The results highlight how much the views in Congress diverge from those of the public it represents, which shifted in favor of same-sex marriage in recent years.
A June poll by CNN found that 54 percent support same-sex marriage. A more recent poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that 48 percent of the general public supports same sex marriage, up from 31 percent in 2004. Forty-four percent oppose same-sex marriage today, compared with 60 percent who were opposed in 2004.
The Republican and Democratic caucuses in Congress appear to be more strongly supportive of or opposed to same-sex marriage than are people who identify with their parties.
The Pew poll found that 24 percent of Republicans said they support same-sex marriage, although Republicans in Congress are almost unanimously opposed. While nearly three-quarters of Democrats in Congress back same-sex marriage, just 65 percent of Democrats polled by Pew said they support it.
A full report on each member’s position can be accessed through a searchable database at the Human Rights Campaign website.
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