Americans split on gay president

A U.S. Marine stands at his post in front of the West Wing of the White House in the late afternoon February 2, 2009. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Half of Americans say they would support an openly gay president, while slightly more would be in favor of a gay Supreme Court judge or secretary of state, according to a new poll.

The survey commissioned by Vanity Fair magazine and current affairs program 60 Minutes highlight increasingly open divisions between the liberal and conservative bulwarks of American society.

Just under a third of Americans questioned in the poll said they support the so-called Tea Party movement, a grass roots right wing activist movement that has held a series of protests around the nation to voice their dissatisfaction with the government.

Almost a third of Americans said the Tea Party movement is the beginning of a much needed revolution, while 15 percent said they were too extreme to be taken seriously.

The issue of homosexuality has been in the spotlight in the United States recently after the Pentagon issued new rules making it harder for the U.S. military to discharge gay personnel, an interim step to ease enforcement of the existing “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy while Congress considers repealing it.

The move to repeal the law, in place since 1993, has been attacked by some groups on the right, who say it may lower moral and damage the operational effectiveness of units with gay personnel.

Gays widely supported U.S. President Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign because of his more liberal stance on gay issues.

In the sporting world Americans are more liberal. Just under two thirds say they would support a gay commissioner of baseball and a gay Super Bowl quarterback, according to the survey. The support for a gay Miss America was the same as for a gay secretary of state, at 56 percent.

The poll was conducted by CBS News among a random sample of 967 adults nationwide between February 26 and March 1.

Reporting by Edward Krudy; Editing by Patricia Reaney