The debate about gay marriage has become more charged during recent weeks, as the Government’s plans for its legalization in England and Wales approach the public consultation stage. In particular, there has been heavyweight opposition to same-sex (gay) marriage from the serving Archbishops of the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches, albeit declarations of support from some other leading Anglicans.
In its regular weekly poll for The Sunday Times, conducted online on 8 and 9 March 2012 among a sample of 1,707 Britons aged 18 and over, YouGov included several questions about gay marriage, one of which was: ‘Do you think the Church of England is right or wrong to defend marriage as an institution for just heterosexual couples?’ Results can be found on page 8 of:
In reply, 47% of Britons said that the Church was right to oppose gay marriage, peaking at 69% of the over-60s and 66% of Conservative voters (notwithstanding that the Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, is backing gay marriage). 37% criticized the Church, including 54% of Liberal Democrats and 50% of the 18-24s. 16% expressed no views on the subject (disproportionately Scots and the under-40s).
In most demographic sub-groups the balance of committed opinion was in favour of the Church. However, among Labour and Liberal Democrat voters, the under-40s, and Londoners pluralities were hostile to the Anglican stance, by margins of between 1% (in London) and 22% (18-24s).
The 47% who supported the Church’s defence of marriage as a heterosexual partnership only was consistent with the 47% who, in the opening question, said that they were opposed to gay marriage. But it is perhaps harder to square with the fact that 62% claimed that same-sex relationships are just as valid as heterosexual ones.