First-of-its-kind resource shows Congress behind public on marriage for gays and lesbians
Washington – Today the Human Rights Campaign released a comprehensive survey of the marriage equality positions of Members of Congress. The new resource, available online at www.hrc.org/resources/entry/your-elected-officials, combines Members’ marriage positions with their record on other critical LGBT issues in one searchable database. Support for marriage equality will also be noted in HRC’s Congressional Scorecard published in the fall.
“As a majority of Americans have come to support the ability of loving and committed gay and lesbian couples to marry, they rightfully want to know whether their elected officials share that fair-minded view,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “Many Members of Congress are commendably with the public, but Congress is always a lagging indicator. It’s time for more of our leaders to get on the right side of history.”
Among both the House and Senate, 181 members support marriage equality (34 percent). 234 have made statements against (44 percent) and 122 have an unclear or unknown position (23 percent). 36 Senators and 145 Representatives support marriage equality with 52 Senators and 182 Representatives opposed.
All 100 Senators, 431 sitting Representatives and 6 Delegates were asked whether or not they agreed with this statement: “Gay and lesbian couples should not be denied the ability to pledge their love and commitment through the civil institution of marriage. I believe that two committed adults of the same sex should be able to receive a government-issued marriage license, while religious institutions retain their right to determine which marriages they will perform,” or alternatively provide an unambiguous statement supporting marriage equality. HRC supplemented that survey with other publicly available statements. Members who did not respond or whose positions are unclear are labeled as such.
Among Democrats, support is at 72 percent with 9 percent opposed and 19 percent unclear or unknown. Only one Republican in Congress supports marriage equality – Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida. Support is strongest in the East (58 percent) and the West (51 percent) and weakest in the Midwest (25 percent) and the South (15 percent). In states where gay and lesbian couples can marry, 69 percent of Senators and Representatives support marriage equality while 17 percent are opposed. And in the four states facing marriage-related ballot measures in November, 56 percent of leaders are supportive of marriage equality with 21 percent opposed.
Nationally, support for marriage equality among the public is at 54 percent according to a June 2012 CNN poll. While marriages are performed on a state level, federal elected officials play a role in the marriage equality debate including efforts to repeal the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act barring the federal government from recognizing legally married same-sex couples. Additionally some Member of Congress continue to advocate for a Federal Marriage Amendment that would write discrimination into the Constitution and bar loving and committed gay and lesbian couples from marriage in any state.