Forward Thinking

Poll: 81% of Jews Back Gay Marriage

By Josh Nathan-Kazis

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It isn’t news that American Jews overwhelmingly support legalizing gay marriage. But a new survey out today puts that level of support at 81%, a few notches higher than previous polls.

An older survey conducted last May by the same polling group, the Public Religion Research Institute, pegged American Jewish support for same-sex marriage at 76%.

About half of all Americans support same-sex marriage.

“I was struck that the numbers were that high nationally, but I’m not shocked by them,” said Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, a gay and lesbian Jewish advocacy group, said of the new survey.

Marriages between gay and lesbian Jews are increasingly accepted by Jewish religious groups. Reform Judaism officially announced its support for gay marriage 1990s, and Conservative Judaism in 2006. No Orthodox groups accept same sex marriage, though the issue of homosexuality has been the subject of increased debate among the Modern Orthodox.

The new survey, conducted online by the Public Religion Research Institute in February and March of this year, polled roughly 1,000 Jews. While the survey found that more than eight in ten Jews favor allowing same-sex marriage, the survey also showed that only 48% of Jewish Republicans support the.

Previous surveys have found American Jewish support for same sex marriage slightly lower. Polls conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2008-2009 measured American Jewish support for same sex marriage at 75%, then at 76% in 2010.

The new survey’s margin of error is 5%, meaning it’s possible that the uptick is a statistical blip. But if the shift is legitimate, it represents an uptick in Jewish support.

“The American Jewish community has a long history of standing on the right side of history when it comes to civil rights legislation, and it’s not surprising that we’re seeing a similar pattern when it comes to equal marriage,” said Klein. “Our challenges … have always been more about creating internal change within Jewish communities, creating change that actually affects the climate and the culture and the politics within our synagogues and day schools and summer camps.”


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