Same-Sex Marriage Gains Not Likely To Be Reversed

Same Sex Marriage Supreme Court

Social conservatives hoping for a backlash against same-sex marriage should probably give up the ghost:

The Human Rights Campaign is welcoming the National Organization for Marriage to Washington Thursday with a poll conducted by Mitt Romney’s former data director showing just how far the majority of Americans are now from their anti-gay marriage views.

The poll was conducted to coincide with NOM’s rally near the Capitol and march to the Supreme Court, followed by a gala at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel.

Conducted by Alex Lundry through his firm TargetPoint Consulting and obtained by POLITICO, it singled out the views of one person, Family Research Council president Tony Perkins, who predicted in 2012 — before Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act were struck down — that the Supreme Court legalizing gay marriage would cause “a revolution. You will see Americans saying, ‘You know what? Enough of this.’ It could explode and just break this nation apart.”

Conducting his poll at the beginning of June, Lundry didn’t find much support for that kind of revolt when the quote was read to respondents, with 59 percent overall disagreeing with Perkins. Of people who said they were opposed to gay marriage, 58 percent said they wouldn’t do anything, despite disagreeing and being disappointed in the decision.

“Only one directly mentions the word ‘revolution,’ five voters threaten to leave the country, and a scant fifteen people (3% of opponents) mention any form of protest,” reads a prepared polling memo. “Clearly, there is no real threat of widespread calamity should we extend the freedom to marry to gays and lesbians.”

Support for gay marriage is at 56 percent, with 37 percent opposed, squaring with public polls. Asked to rate the degree of their support, 44 percent said they “strongly” support legalization, with only 28 percent opposed.

Perkins is perhaps the most prominent example of social conservatives who seem to think that the majority support for same sex marriage, the fact that it is now legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and the unbroken string of legal victories that marriage equality proponents have had over the past year is some kind of fad that will reverse itself. No doubt, there were people who disliked interracial marriages in the wake of Loving v. Virginia who felt the same way. In both cases, though, it’s clear that’s what happening is a cultural shift away toward acceptance of others that simply isn’t going to reverse itself, at least not as easily as it has advanced over the past 20 years. In some respects, I suppose one can ascribe an attitude like this to wishful thinking in the face of the fact that the battle for marriage equality is basically over. Whatever the motivation, though, its clear that Perkins and people like him are still able to raise money with rhetoric like this and, as long as that continues they will continue saying things like this no matter how nonsensical they may seem.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, 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. David in KC says:

    Kind of curious how many poor people they could have fed and housed with the resources that they have dedicated to this fight. Christian values and all.

  2. grumpy realist says:

    Chalk this up to “grifters gotta grift”, Doug. They know it’s over, but as long as they can continue pulling ca$h from the rubes they’ll keep up banging the drum.

  3. MikeSJ says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Chalk this up to “grifters gotta grift”, Doug. They know it’s over, but as long as they can continue pulling ca$h from the rubes they’ll keep up banging the drum.

    Once you understand this so much of what used to mystify me about the right wing starts to make sense.

    P.T Barnum said it best: “There’s a sucker born every minute”

  4. It is a curious position. There are some who clearly think that there will be a backlash,but I would argue that they do not understand (or are in denial about) the underlying demographic trends here.

  5. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    I think anyone who has listened to talk radio constantly hears the phrase “if X happens, then the people will finally revolt.” It’s a pretty standard line among the marginalized people who mistake their view to be the dominant view (see for example Eric F’s repeated claims that America is really a “conservative” — i.e. talk radio conservative — nation).

    No amount of counter data is going to sway these people from this belief.