The latest survey by Pew Research Center found increasing support for both gay marriage and gun rights, both issues that might come up again as the US prepares for the presidential election in November.
As the Pew statement put it: "On gun control, Americans have become more conservative; on gay marriage, they have become more liberal."
The survey, conducted between April 4 and 15 among 3,008 adults, found that 47 percent of those surveyed favored legal marriage for gay and lesbian couples, while 43 percent opposed it. This is a significant difference since 2008, when 39 percent favored and 51 percent opposed gay marriage and 2004, when 31 percent favored gay marriage and 60 percent opposed it.
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On gun control, 49 percent of respondents were in favor of protecting gun owners' rights, while 45 percent said gun control was more important. According to Pew, a majority had said it was more important to control gun ownership from 1993 to 2008. Opinion became divided shortly after President Barack Obama's election in 2008.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association earlier this month, saying he would be a president "who will stand up for the rights of hunters, sportsmen and those seeking to protect their homes and their families," according to The New York Times.
In February, Romney attempted to burnish his credentials among gun owners by stating, "I believe in the second amendment, I’ll protect the second amendment. I have guns myself," according to ABC News.
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On the issue of gay marriage, at least five states have joined Massachusetts in allowing same-sex marriage since 2008, including Connecticut, New York, Iowa, Vermont and New Hampshire.
Much has been made of Romney hiring the openly gay Richard Grenell as his foreign policy spokesman, with some social conservatives grumbling. The Atlantic noted, "His rise signals a remarkable new openness in a party often castigated for its social conservatism; in addition to being out, Grenell has waged some public battles for gay rights that contradict his new boss's own positions."
The Pew poll also found 53 percent of those surveyed in favor of legal abortion, with 39 percent opposed. The figures had not changed much in recent years.
However, social issues were not as highly ranked in importance as the economy (86 percent) and jobs (84 percent) as top voting issues.
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