District residents are generally supportive of the progressive, activist social agenda being pursued by the D.C. Council, putting their stamp of approval on efforts by government leaders to enact policies while Democrats control Congress.
A Washington Post poll conducted last month finds majorities favor same-sex marriage, want medical marijuana to be legalized and support the creation of an elected attorney general ...
The poll responses, along with sky high approval ratings for President Obama, help confirm the city's reputation as one of the most left-leaning jurisdictions in the country. City leaders said they felt constrained when Congress, which has the final say over whether a council bill can become law, was controlled by Republicans from 1995 to 2007. But with Democrats running Congress and Obama in the White House, the overwhelmingly Democratic council feels more liberated to set policy ...
Overall support masks racial divides on many of the new policies approved by the council, underscoring that residents in majority-white areas feel far different about a variety of issues than their counterparts in majority-black neighborhoods.
Although most District residents are in sync with the council in support of same-sex marriage, there is widespread public support for putting the question to a city-wide vote.
Nearly six in 10 residents say they would prefer to vote on the issue. City leaders have said a public vote would be discriminatory. "I don't think it should be a decree made by the government," said Pablo Barreyro, 72, of Chevy Chase. "I don't think it should be left to a small party of politicians. . . . I really wonder what the outcome would be if it becomes available for public input."
If it lands on the ballot, however, the District would be well positioned to become the first state-level jurisdiction in the country where voters embraced same-sex marriage, according to the poll.
Nearly six in 10 D.C. residents, including 83 percent of whites, favor making it legal for gay couples to marry.
The broad support for same-sex marriage in the District's white community cuts across cultural lines that divide opinions on the matter nationally. Regular white churchgoers nationwide generally oppose same-sex marriage, but two-thirds of whites in the District who attend services monthly or more often support same-sex marriage.
African Americans tilt against same-sex marriage. Thirty-seven percent of black residents back legal same-sex marriage. A slim majority opposes it, and the bulk of opponents say they feel that way strongly.
But some divisions are evident in the local black community on this issue, with sharp divides by church attendance and education.
One in five African Americans who attend church services weekly favor same-sex marriage, and support rises to 47 percent among those who attend less often. A narrow majority of black college graduates supports gay marriage, compared with about a third of African Americans with less formal education.