The poll, which reminds people that civil partnerships are already an option for same-sex couples, reveals a significant rise in support for gay marriage.
More than three in five voters support David Cameron's wish to introduce gay marriage, according to a poll conducted for the Guardian. The strong backing for a change in the law comes after the archbishop of Westminster queried the democratic legitimacy of the coalition plans.
The ICM poll conducted just before Christmas found 62% of voters now support the proposals, with half this number – 31% – opposed. Most previous polls have found opinion leaning the same way, although the two-to-one margin revealed on Wednesday is particularly emphatic...
...The results will encourage the view of Cameron and the deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, who has also set significant store by the proposal, that they are on the right side of history. But with opinion moving so fast in favour of gay marriage, enthusiasts on Wednesday demanded to know why the government had provided for such sweeping exemptions for religious groups. Among other things these provide for a wholesale exemption for the Church of England, such that – were the currently opposed C of E to embrace gay marriage at some later date – fresh legislation would be required to extend the reform to it.
The public want the Government to go further on gay marriage by allowing Church of England vicars to conduct same-sex weddings, a poll for The Independent reveals today. As some religious leaders used their Christmas sermons to attack David Cameron's plans, the ComRes survey suggests that the Church of England is out of touch with the public by opposing gay marriage. It defines marriage "as being between a man and a woman".
By a margin of 2-1, people oppose the Government's proposal to make it illegal for the Church of England to conduct gay marriages. Asked whether its vicars should be allowed to perform such ceremonies if they wanted to, 62 per cent of people said they should and 31 per cent disagreed, with seven per cent replying "don't know".
Vincent Nichols, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, warned that the Government's plans would create a "sham" version of marriage. Urging all Catholics to join the political struggle against gay marriage, the Archbishop of Westminster used a midnight Mass to criticise governments which "mistakenly promote such patterns of sexual intimacy [outside marriage] as objectively to be approved and even encouraged among the young".
In his strongest attack on the proposal, Archbishop Nichols told the BBC yesterday: "There was no announcement in any party manifesto, no Green Paper, no statement in the Queen's Speech. And yet here we are on the verge of primary legislation. From a democratic point of view, it's a shambles."
Accusing the Government of ignoring the result of its consultation exercise, he said: "George Orwell would be proud of that manoeuvre. I think the process is shambolic."
Gay marriage: public say Church is wrong