A week after U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the U.S. Constitution, a new CNN Opinion Research Poll finds that while a majority of Americans don’t believe that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry, most (52%) think that they should:
An increasing number of polls have shown that number of Americans who support marriage equality, know and respect gay people is rising and several surveys have found that were the vote held today, Californians would not have approved Proposition 8. In fact, according to a recent Public Religion Research Institute survey, one-in-four Californians report that their views on rights for gay and lesbian people has become more supportive over the last five years — compared to only 8% who say they have become more opposed and a majority — and 51%, said they would vote to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry.
But of course as Walker argued in his Prop 8 ruling, since the Supreme Court has found marriage to be a “fundamental right,” it already exists (for all persons) within the constitution. The growing public acceptance of same-sex marriage, moreover, is significant, but not determinative. “Plaintiffs do not seek recognition of a new right,” he wrote. “To characterize plaintiffs’ objective as ‘the right to same-sex marriage’ would suggest that plaintiffs seek something different from what opposite-sex couples across the state enjoy —— namely, marriage. Rather, plaintiffs ask California to recognize their relationships for what they are: marriages.”
“That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 8 is irrelevant, as ‘fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections,’” he added.