Most don't want same-sex marriage decision left to states, poll finds

Half of the country supports same-sex marriage, and most people don't believe the issue should be left to the states, according to a new poll.

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The latest Quinnipiac University survey comes just a week after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a pair of historic cases on same-sex marriage.

The court appeared likely to leave the issue to the states, rather than address the fundamental question of whether the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.

Several justices were concerned about getting too far ahead of the public — but Thursday's poll suggests the public is ahead of the court.

Only 36 percent of those polled in the Quinnipiac survey said the issue should be left to the states, while 56 percent said the issue should be decided "for all states on the basis of the U.S. Constitution."

Overall support for same-sex marriage reached a new high in the survey. Fifty percent said they support same-sex marriage "in general," up from 47 percent a year ago and just 36 percent in 2008.

The public's rapid turnaround on same-sex marriage is a subtle factor in the Supreme Court's marriage cases. Although the justices base their rulings strictly on the law, their questions last week indicated a reluctance to step into a debate that is working itself out in the states.