Support For Marriage Equality Hits All-Time High In Gallup Poll
While most of the attention on marriage equality front has been focused on the courts in recent months, there’s also considerable evidence that public attitudes on the issue are continuing to shift dramatically. It was more than three years ago now that we first saw a poll that showed majority support for same-sex marriage, a dramatic change from just twenty years earlier when an overwhelming majority of Americans opposed the idea. Since then a number of other polls have consistently shown support for marriage equality above 50%, a fact that suggests that we have reached that turning point where marriage equality is the majority position. Now, a new Gallup poll shows that public support for same-sex marriage has hit an all time high in that poll, and that support among younger Americans is at near-universal levels:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ support for the law recognizing same-sex marriages as legally valid has increased yet again, now at 55%. Marriage equality advocates have had a string of legal successes over the past year, most recently this week in Pennsylvania and Oregon where federal judges struck down bans on gay marriage.
Two successive Gallup polls in 2012 saw support climb from 53% to 54%, indicating a steady but slight growth in acceptance of gay marriages over the past year after a more rapid increase between 2009 and 2011. In the latest May 8-11 poll, there is further evidence that support for gay marriage has solidified above the majority level. This comes on the heels of gay marriage proponents’ 14th legal victory in a row.
When Gallup first asked Americans this question about same-sex marriage in 1996, 68% were opposed to recognizing marriage between two men or two women, with slightly more than a quarter supporting it (27%). Since then, support has steadily grown, reaching 42% by 2004 when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize it — a milestone that reached its 10th anniversary this month.
In 2011, support for gay marriage vaulted over the 50% mark for the first time, and since 2012, support has remained above that level. In the last year, however, support has leveled off a bit. Currently, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, while several states wait in legal limbo as they appeal judge rulings overturning state bans.
The chart shows how public attitudes have shifted over the past eighteen years:
As other polls have shown, this poll also shows some differences based on the age of the respondents, with younger Americans far more supportive of marriage equality than older Americans:
And, of course, Republicans and conservatives remain the only political/ideological group where a majority is opposed to equality:
To some degree, this news isn’t entirely surprising. The trends in the polls have, as I said above, been clear for some time now. Nonetheless, it is yet another example of the tremendous social change that we’ve seen on this issue in a remarkably short period of time, something mirrored in the action that we’ve seen in Federal and State courts in the eleven months since the Supreme Court handed down its Windsor decision. Indeed, same-sex marriage has become socially acceptable at a faster rate than interracial marriage did in the years preceding and following the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia. That strikes me as a good sign.