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Pew poll shows drop in support for same-sex ‘marriage’: new trend or a blip?

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Support for same-sex "marriage" is down by five points since 2010, according to a new Pew Research poll.

The poll, published Monday, examined how the American people view a variety of issues related to religion and its impact on public policy and "public life." One of the issues most closely examined was same-sex "marriage," which Pew found dropped in support from 2010 to 49 percent, with 41 percent of the public opposed to changing the definition of marriage.

Those numbers are approximately the same as public support in 2013, which Pew said averaged 50 percent in support and 43 percent opposed. However, it is a five percent drop from February for support for redefining marriage. 

Pew's report stated, "It is too early to know whether this is an anomaly or the beginning of a reversal or leveling off of the growth in support for same-sex marriage widely observed in polls over the past decade."  

Judicial Crisis Network Chief Counsel and Policy Director Carrie Severino agreed with Pew, telling LifeSiteNews, "It's impossible to know if this is a real trend, or simply a brief variation." But she also said that the public could be turning against same-sex "marriage" because of judicial action on the issue that often overturns laws and constitutional amendments supported by the public.

"One thing that was a direct consequence of Roe v. Wade, pointed to even by advocates of the decision like Justice Ginsburg, is that when a court gets out ahead of the public on a divisive issue like abortion, it can have a detrimental effect on the country at large," said Severino.

"The same would likely hold true for marriage. If you look at where you saw the country prior to Roe v. Wade, the elites were supporting abortion and the general trend was toward liberalization of abortion laws.  But prior to the Supreme Court stepping in, it was being worked out at the state level."

"As a result of the Supreme Court's constitutionalizing the issue of abortion, you have 40 years of a deformation in American law. Now we have litmus tests for judges, people marching in Washington, etc. I think the same effect would happen with marriage," Severino continued.

"What we are seeing, although SCOTUS has not yet resolved the issue, is other federal courts jumping in, nullifying state constitutional amendments and longstanding state laws. So as with abortion, democratically-enacted decisions are being nullified by unelected judges. This is the kind of thing that happened with Roe v. Wade, but - at least for now - on a different judicial scale, since it is all in the lower courts."

In short, said Severino, "the public often resents it when an important and divisive issue is taken out of the realm of public debate and decided by judges." 

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American Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Karlyn Bowman, who analyzes public polling, said that while "it is possible that the judiciary is a little ahead of its skis," she does not "see a direct relationship."

"There is no way I can see it in the public opinion data," she told LifeSiteNews. Instead, said Bowman, "what is more likely is that we have seen a leveling off point in the public's eye. I think we're hitting a pause, but not a plateau. You’ve seen a lot of other polls in recent weeks showing either a narrow majority or strong plurality in support of gay marriage, [but] the level of opposition to same-sex marriage isn't changing."

"As younger cohorts become older, and replace older cohorts, we may see another shift in support, but for now, I think we're in a holding pattern."

The Pew poll also found that 50 percent of Americans see homosexuality as sinful, a rise of five percent since 2013, and that a plurality believe "wedding-related businesses" should not have the freedom to avoid serving same-sex couples. 

That question, which found 49 percent in favor of forcing businesses to violate their conscience and 47 percent opposed, flies in the face of a June 2013 Rasmussen poll finding 85 percent of Americans opposed to forcing businesses to provide service at same-sex “weddings.” Hot Air blogger Allahpundit noted that the questions were asked differently, and that the Rasmussen question was the sixth in a series of liberty-related questions.

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