Poll: 51% approve of Obama on gay marriage

3:33 PM, May 11, 2012   |    comments
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(USA TODAY) -- More than half of Americans say they approve of President Obama's stance that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry legally, but 60% say that his shift in position will have no bearing on how they vote in the November election, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup poll.

Overall, 51% approve of Obama's new position on same-sex marriage, compared with 45% who disapprove. Nearly 13% say his shift in position will make them more likely to vote for him, while 26% say it will make them less likely, suggesting that more supporters of likely GOP nominee Mitt Romney feel more strongly about this issue than do base supporters of Obama.

Since Obama announced on Wednesday his shift on the issue in an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts, his campaign has highlighted his position on gay rights while charging that Romney would further restrict rights for same-sex couples. Though Obama endorsed gay marriage, he told Roberts that the issue should be a matter for each state to decide on individually.

In remarks at a campaign fundraiser at the home of actor George Clooney on Thursday night, Obama described his shift in position - he previously supported civil unions but opposed gay marriage - as a "logical extension of what America is supposed to be."

"It grew directly out of this difference in visions," Obama said of his shift in position. "Are we a country that includes everybody and gives everybody a shot and treats everybody fairly, and is that going to make us stronger? Are we welcoming to immigrants? Are we welcoming to people who aren't like us? Does that make us stronger? I believe it does. So that's what's at stake."

Romney and other Republicans have largely stayed away from the issue in recent days, and charged that Obama is trying to shift attention away from the more important issue to American voters: the economy. In the poll, those who approve of the president's position on gay marriage think the economy is getting better, and 62% of those who disapprove think it is getting worse.

Younger respondents and respondents with a higher level of education are more likely to approve of Obama's position on the issue. On the flipside -whether Democrat or Republican - voters who say religion is important to them and are regular church attendees are more likely to disapprove of Obama's position.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt declined to comment on the findings of the poll. "The president didn't do this for politics," LaBolt said. "He did it because it was the right thing to do."

The Romney campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

The poll was based on telephone interviews conducted on Thursday with a random sample of 1,013 adults living in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Aamer Madhani and Jim Norman, USA TODAY

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