A new survey shows an increase in likely U.S. voters who see marriage as a religious institution, with a majority now holding this view.
Rasmussen Reports’ Dec. 22 national survey of 1,000 U.S. likely voters found that a majority – 53 percent of respondents – said marriage is a religious institution. This is an increase from 48 percent in October. Another 40 percent saw marriage as a civil institution, down from 45 percent in October.
About 77 percent of respondents said they are married or have been at some point in their lives. This correlated to their views of the institution.
About 57 percent of ever-married respondents said marriage is a religious institution, while the never-married tended to see it as a civil institution.
A large majority of Republicans and a small majority of unaffiliated voters said marriage is a religious institution, while a small majority of Democrats said it is civil in nature. Men and respondents over 40 were more likely to say marriage is religious.
Respondents also gave their views on the relationship between marriage and having children.
About 73 percent of respondents said it is important or very important to be married before having children. Another 25 percent said that marriage is not a precondition for parenthood, an increase from 20 percent in a previous survey.
Ever-married respondents were far more likely to stress the importance of marriage before children than the unmarried, Rasmussen Reports said.
The survey suggests marriage is highly valued in the U.S.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents said marriage is somewhat or very important to society, with 55 percent ranking it very important.
The survey found that 45 percent of respondents opposed “gay marriage,” while 42 percent favored it.
In October, the pollster’s survey found voters evenly split on the question at 44 percent each. However, the apparent changes are still within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.
Views about the nature of marriage appear to correlate to views on “gay marriage.” About 71 percent of those who said marriage is a religious institution oppose “gay marriage,” while 75 percent of those who said it is a civil institution favor marriage redefinition.