By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., February 3, 2010 ( – A new poll by Angus Reid Public Opinion shows that a majority of Americans believe the US Supreme Court would defend marriage as between a man and a woman against opponents of California’s Proposition 8, with an even greater majority expressing approval of such a ruling.

Both sides of the marriage debate expect that the federal trial of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex “marriage,” will reach the US Supreme Court. Perry v. Schwarzenegger currently awaits a decision in U.S. District Court – and many speculate the case could end up meaning for the marriage debate what Roe v. Wade meant for the abortion issue.

52 percent of 1,000 adult respondents told Angus Reid pollsters that they believed the U.S. Supreme Court would reject the constitutional arguments made by opponents of Prop. 8, and rule that marriage is the union of a man and a woman.

58 percent said they would prefer such a ruling, while 34 percent wanted a ruling legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The same percentage split defined a majority saying they would vote to keep the natural definition of marriage in their home state if the question came up via a referendum.

“I think that those numbers tie into what we’ve seen time and time again. The majority of Americans just oppose same-sex ‘marriage,'” said Brian Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage.”

Brown told that the numbers of those in support of traditional marriage are generally understated: among the states that have voted on the question, support for traditional marriage has registered on average about seven points higher at the ballot box than in polls. He pointed to the example of Maine, where polls showed a measure to overturn same-sex “marriage” was in a dead heat, but later cruised to victory 53 – 47 percent. (see coverage)

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