Poll: 58% Of Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll puts support for same-sex marriage at the highest level ever seen:

Public support for gay marriage has hit a new high as Americans increasingly see homosexuality not as a choice but as a way some people are, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

The poll shows that 58 percent of Americans now believe it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married; 36 percent say it should be illegal. Public attitudes toward gay marriage are a mirror image of what they were a decade ago: in 2003, 37 percent favored gay nuptials, and 55 percent opposed them.

The Supreme Court takes up the issue of gay marriage next week, and nearly two-thirds of all Americans say the matter should be decided for all states on the basis of the U.S. Constitution, not with each state making its own laws.

Among young adults age 18 to 29, support for gay marriage is overwhelming, hitting a record high of 81 percent  in the new poll. Support has also been increasing among older adults, but those aged 65 years old and up remain opposed, on balance: 44 percent say same-sex marriage should be legal; 50 percent say illegal.

A slim majority of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents under 50 years old now support gay marriage. Nearly seven in 10 of those aged 65 and up oppose it, although that is down from more than eight in 10 just four years ago.

There has been a related movement in public opinion about homosexuality. Fully 62 percent of Americans now say being gay is just the way some people are, not something people choose to be. About 20 years ago, fewer than half of the public said so.

In the current data, about three-quarters of those who do not see homosexuality as a choice support gay marriage, with most supporting it “strongly.” More than two-thirds of those who see it as a choice oppose gay marriage, with almost all intensely against it.

Currently, gay marriage is legal in only nine states and the District of Columbia, but public views are more similar than not across state lines. In the states that allow gay marriage, 68 percent say such same-sex marriages should be legal, but so too do 56 percent of those in states where the practice is not legal.

This mirrors results we’ve seen from other polls, and this chart seems to demonstrate that there was a sea change in public opinion on this issue within the last several years, and that there doesn’t seem to be any sign of going back:



It’s also worth noting that, as highlighted above, a substantial majority of those polled oppose the idea of letting marriage be left “to the states,” which seems to be coming the position that many conservatives are starting to take on the issue. Logically, the majority seems to have latched on to what is the only acceptable answer to this question. If marriage equality is an individual right, as I believe that it is, than it’s simply wrong to take the position that some states can choose to violate the rights of their citizens because of some misplaced devotion to “state’s rights.”

Also worth noting is the fact that support for banning same-sex marriage, which was the majority opinion less than ten years ago, now appears to garner just a little more than a third of the populations support. The times truly have changed.

FILED UNDER: Public Opinion Polls, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Travis Mason-Bushman says:

    Look at the numbers for my generation – 81% of us value equality. As you said, there’s no turning back.

    With Hillary Clinton taking an early stand, it’s clear that going forward, it will be impossible for anyone to win the Democratic presidential nomination without being a strong supporter of marriage equality. What will happen in the Republican 2016 primaries? Will social conservatives still control the base?

  2. Mr. Replica says:

    Will social conservatives still control the base?

    When was the last time social conservatives didn’t control the republican base?

  3. Mikey says:

    You know what surprised me the most? It’s basically at 50/50 in the 65+ demographic. I expected far higher opposition in that group.

    I’m sure I don’t even have to go into the implications for the Republican party, when half of their most highly represented segment disagrees with the party position on same-sex marriage.

  4. Mikey says:

    Also…only eight years to a complete inversion of the numbers. That’s fast even in the modern age.

  5. Gromitt Gunn says:

    @Mikey: Especially considering that it took over 20 years *after* Loving v. Virginia for interracial marriage to hit the > 50% approval mark in public opinion polling.

  6. Lynda says:

    @Travis Mason-Bushman:
    I know that CPAC is not representative of the social wing of the Republican Party (the typical attendee is younger and leans libertarian) but I did find these photos interesting.


    The National Organization for Marriage had an almost empty room whilst GOProud spoke to a standing room only crowd.

  7. xgaygreg says:

    I used to be addicted to men, but 7 years ago Jesus set me FREE! (YouTube video) I made the switch from being married to my first wife by ditching her and our 2 sons to go into the gay life-choice. Today I am FREE, DELIVERED and married to a beautiful woman of God. I won’t go back! ALL HAIL KING JESUS!!!

  8. David M says:


    That’s awesome for you and all, but I’m pretty sure there are still other gay people that want to get married.

  9. mantis says:


    I used to be addicted to men, but 7 years ago Jesus set me FREE!

    Jesus hates men. Got it.

  10. de stijl says:


    What turned you around? X-Gay vision?

  11. An Interested Party says:

    You know what surprised me the most? It’s basically at 50/50 in the 65+ demographic. I expected far higher opposition in that group.

    Well certainly it’s probably harder for someone to be homophobic when his/her son, daughter, grandson, and/or granddaughter is/are gay…

    I used to be addicted to men, but 7 years ago Jesus set me FREE!

    So Jesus personally touched you with erectile dysfunction? I knew He was powerful, but really…

  12. G.A.Phillips says:

    You people suck!

  13. Al says:


    4/10 with most of the points being given for going over the top in terms of presentation. The bad YouTube link consisting of nothing but “(YouTube video)” is by far and away the best part of the bit although the brevity was also appreciated. Still, if you’re going for points in satire you’re going to be going up against some pretty good posters. If, on the other hand, you’re going for points in the Poe’s Law category then you’re going up against one of the world’s top posters.

    Either way you need to bring your ‘A’ game and that wasn’t it.