61% Of Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage, According To A New Poll

As oral argument in the Supreme Court gets closer, a new poll finds public support for same-sex marriage at it's highest level yet.

Gay Marriage Wedding Cake Two Women

With only five days to go before the Supreme Court hears oral argument in set of consolidated cases that could very well lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, a new poll finds that public support for same-sex marriage is at an all time high:

A record-high 6 in 10 Americans support same-sex marriage and a similar share say individual states should not be allowed to define marriage as only between a man and a woman, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

(…)

The Post-ABC poll finds 61 percent of Americans support allowing gays to marry and 35 percent are opposed. Support is up only slightly from last year but is a reversal from public sentiment a decade ago, when opponents outnumbered supporters 58 percent to 39 percent.

In the short and long run, support for same-sex marriage has grown significantly across demographic and political groups.

Among those under age 30, support has grown since 2005 from 57 percent to 78 percent. Among those 65 and over, it has increased from 18 percent to 46 percent. Support has also risen by double digits across partisan groups, though Democrats and independents have shifted the most.

Despite that, wide swaths of opposition persist among important voting groups. More than 6 in 10 Republicans oppose allowing gay couples to marry, and that increases to 71 percent of conservative Republicans, who play a critical role in the party’s presidential primaries and caucuses.

Nearly half of seniors continue to oppose same-sex marriage. Other surveys find opposition among majorities of white evangelical Protestants and those who attend religious services at least once a week.

By contrast, the Post-ABC poll finds that majorities of Democrats, independents and every age group under 65 support allowing same-sex marriages.

There are 37 states, plus the District of Columbia, where, through the legislative process or court order, gay couples are allowed to marry. In those place, 64 percent say such unions should be legal. But even in the 13 states where same-sex marriage is not legal, 54 percent say it should be.

The public’s perspective on whether states may forbid same-sex marriage mirrors overall views on the subject, according to the poll. Sixty-one percent oppose allowing states to prohibit same-sex marriages, and 62 percent support requiring states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

A year ago, a Gallup poll showed support for same-sex marriage among American adults at 55%, the highest it had ever been measured in that poll, so while this is the first poll we’ve seen showing support above 60%, it’s not entirely surprising to see it there. As I’ve noted before, public opinion on this issue has undergone a profound and rapid change since it first entered public consciousness in the mid-1990s. Back then, polling generally indicated that at least three-quarters of Americans opposed same-sex marriage and, for a long time, the forces opposed to marriage equality owned the political field and were able to pass laws or constitutional amendments limiting civil marriage to opposite sex couples in a majority of the states. Over time, though, public opinion on the issue began to change and, after North Carolina became the last state to pass an amendment barring same-sex marriage in April 2012. Since then, we have seen a tide of voter referendums, laws passed by state legislatures, and court decisions that have expended the number of states where same-sex marriage is legal from less than ten to thirty-seven in a few short years. This has been accompanied by a steady increase in public support for same-sex marriage that, as I have noted before, has actually occurred at a far more rapid pace than it took for interracial marriage to become “socially acceptable” in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia. Now, we are just a few days away from arguments in the nation’s highest court that could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage.

As is always the case, the demographics in the poll are the most interest and politically important piece of information. Among young people, support for same-sex marriage is now at 78%, a number which indicates that there are very few millenial voters who oppose same-sex marriage and that candidates that hold that position are likely to have trouble attracting younger voters. More broadly, though, there are only three demographic groups where opposition to same-sex marriage is even the plurality position; Republicans, where 63% say they oppose same-sex marriage, conservatives, where 56% say that they oppose it, and voters over 65, where 49% say they oppose while 46% are in support. That last number is somewhat interesting because most recent polling had shown older Americans much more strongly opposed, so it would appear that opinions are changing even among that demographic group. As for Republicans, well, despite some signs of change there, it’s fairly clear that people who consider themselves Republicans are still strongly opposed to same-sex marriage. In holding that opinion, though, they are out of step with their fellow Americans.

Public opinion is, of course, not a relevant concern for the Justices who will be tasked with ruling on the constitutionality of laws banning same-sex marriage between now and June. At the same time, though, the Court clearly pays attention to the political world around it when handling cases like this, and even Justice Ginsburg has expressed concern in the past that the Court may have put itself too far ahead of public opinion when it handed down the decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973. In that respect, this poll is in some sense a signal to the Justices that they don’t necessarily need to be concerned about being ahead of public opinion if they rule in the manner many people expect them to later this year.

 

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Ron Beasley says:
  2. michael reynolds says:

    @Ron Beasley:
    Hi dal really is an idiot. He’s doubling down on a dead issue that would obliterate any slight chance he’d ever have of winning a general election.

  3. michael reynolds says:

    I do not know what happened to the “Jin” on the front of “Dal.” Hmmm.

  4. Nikki says:

    @Ron Beasley: Don’t you know that Jindal simply HAS to make sure he remains on the wrong side of history? It’s his destiny!

  5. David M says:

    I don’t see how this could be true. I’ve read many times how it’s the elites on the left that are forcing their SSM agenda though against the will of virtually all decent Americans in their attempt to destroy marriage for the middle class.

  6. Kylopod says:

    Jindal writes:

    Our country was founded on the principle of religious liberty, enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Why shouldn’t an individual or business have the right to cite, in a court proceeding, religious liberty as a reason for not participating in an interracial marriage ceremony that violates a sincerely held religious belief?

    Okay, I lied. Jindal actually referred to a “same-sex marriage ceremony,” not an “interracial marriage ceremony.” But really, if you take his argument at face value, then it would make no difference what the person is refusing to participate in, as long as it violates a “sincerely held religious belief.”

    That would be the first question I’d ask him in a debate. If he were honest, he’d call my bluff and say that, yes, he does support the right of people to refuse to participate in interracial marriage ceremonies, not just same-sex ones. After all, it wasn’t too long ago that prominent conservatives were making just that sort of argument. (For example, when the Supreme Court in 1983 upheld the denial of tax-exempt status to Bob Jones U. for its racist policies, Jerry Falwell called the decision a “blow against religious liberty.”) More likely, he’d just squirm out of giving a straight answer.

  7. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @michael reynolds: If you have an Android phone with AT&T, they pushed out a software update recently that made the keyboard much more… interesting.

  8. Gromitt Gunn says:

    Well, that’s sure one way to appeal to the Money! third of the GOP.

  9. Rafer Janders says:

    Our country was founded on the principle of religious liberty, enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Why shouldn’t an individual or business have the right to cite, in a court proceeding, religious liberty as a reason for not participating in an interracial marriage ceremony that violates a sincerely held religious belief?

    Bobby is, as usual, lying, as the people who participate in the marriage ceremony are the officiant priest/minister/judge/whatever, the couple and their wedding party, and the guests, all of whom are there willingly.

    Bakers, caterers, the band, etc. don’t participate in the marriage ceremony — their activities are generally part of the reception, or of the prep work beforehand, all of which are part of the celebration of the marriage ceremony, but not of the marriage itself.

  10. Kylopod says:

    @Rafer Janders: Please note, the excerpt you copy-pasted from my post was (as I explained) doctored to say “interracial marriage” instead of “same-sex marriage.” You seem to be responding to the original piece, which talks merely about SSM.

  11. Rafer Janders says:

    @Kylopod:

    D’oh! Perfectly right, I didn’t notice that.

  12. DrDaveT says:

    More than 6 in 10 Republicans oppose allowing gay couples to marry, and that increases to 71 percent of conservative Republicans

    Wait a minute — there’s a significant fraction of Republicans who don’t self-identify as ‘conservative’? Who the heck are these people, and why would they be Republicans?

  13. An Interested Party says:

    Bobby Jindal: I’m Holding Firm Against Gay Marriage

    Indeed…much like how pharaoh held firm against the Red Sea…

  14. Tony W says:

    Alternate Headline: 39% of Americans still living in the 1950s

  15. Kylopod says:

    @DrDaveT: I haven’t looked at the details of this poll, but Gallup does a survey on political self-identification every year, and it has generally showed that close to 70% of Republicans identify as conservative. That’s an overwhelming majority (substantially more than Dems who identify as liberal), but the ones who don’t identify as conservative certainly exist–30% isn’t insignificant.

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/166787/liberal-self-identification-edges-new-high-2013.aspx

    Of course, self-identification according to vague labels like liberal, moderate or conservative is a questionable way of determining what people actually believe.

  16. DrDaveT says:

    @Kylopod: Thanks for the link. I’m just completely boggled by the idea that 23% of Republicans self-identify as “moderate”, and 5% self-identify as “liberal”(!). “Moderate” I can sort of understand, since people generally want to see themselves as reasonable and not too extreme (and will thus label whatever bizarre aberrant notions they have as “moderate”), but liberal? That’s sort of like being a member of PETA who self-identifies as “veal rancher”.

  17. James P says:

    Polls in many states show a majority in favor of homosexual marriage………………then people vote on it. If a majority supported it, homosexual “marriage” would not fail almost every time people vote on it.

    Proponents of homosexual marriage know that this poll is false. If they believed it they would agree to a referenda on it. Liberals, however, oppose allowing people to vote on this because they know darn well what the result would be.

    I’m perfectly happy to put homosexual “marriage” on the ballot and abide by the results. Liberals would never agree to this.

    I know what the results of the ballot box would be…………so do liberals. These polls are completely bogus and everyone knows it. A majority of Americans still think this is a perversion.

  18. HarvardLaw92 says:

    You lost. Get over it.

  19. Tony W says:

    @James P:

    Polls in many states show a majority in favor of homosexual marriage………………then people vote on it.

    Using your logic, perhaps we should put black-slavery to a vote as well? After all most white people wouldn’t mind having somebody around the house to take care of those nasty jobs that we all put off. I also feel like the majority would vote to tax billionaires at 99% – after all, it won’t affect them, and it would lower my tax burden.

    May we assume you’d be in favor of both proposals?

  20. James P says:

    Gays should not be allowed to get married. All those homosexuals, with their hard gym bodies, make me have bad thoughts, and I have to punish myself. If they all get married, how will I ever get any spanky my wanky on the downlow?

    My pee pee hurts just thinking about it.