Americans’ Support for Same-Sex Marriage Is at an All-Time High

Support grows as courts continue to strike down state laws that bar gay couples from marrying.

National Journal
Kaveh Waddell
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Kaveh Waddell
May 21, 2014, 9:50 a.m.

The push to leg­al­ize same-sex mar­riage is gain­ing mo­mentum at the state level — and pub­lic sup­port is there to back it up.

At 55 per­cent, Amer­ic­ans’ sup­port for same-sex mar­riage is at an all-time high, ac­cord­ing to a new Gal­lup Poll. The gap between sup­port­ers and op­pon­ents of same-sex mar­riage has been widen­ing since 2011, when sup­port­ers first found them­selves in the ma­jor­ity.

As has been the case for years, older Amer­ic­ans are far less likely than young­er gen­er­a­tions to fa­vor gay and les­bi­an mar­riage. At 42 per­cent, sup­port among people over 65 is nearly half the rate among 18-to-29-year-olds, 78 per­cent of whom think same-sex mar­riage should be leg­al. Demo­crats are more than twice as likely as Re­pub­lic­ans to fa­vor same-sex mar­riage, 74 per­cent to 30 per­cent. Only 48 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans in the South be­lieve same-sex mar­riage should be leg­al, mak­ing it the only re­gion where the prac­tice is still op­posed by a ma­jor­ity.

The poll res­ults come hot on the heels of vic­tor­ies for pro­ponents of same-sex mar­riage in Ore­gon and Pennsylvania this week. An Ore­gon judge ruled on Monday that a ban on gay mar­riage, in place since 2004, was un­con­sti­tu­tion­al, al­low­ing the state to be­gin is­su­ing mar­riage li­censes to same-sex couples im­me­di­ately. The next day, a sim­il­ar state con­sti­tu­tion­al ban was struck down in Pennsylvania, mak­ing it the 19th state to al­low gay mar­riage.

Al­though na­tion­wide sup­port for gay and les­bi­an mar­riage has been con­sist­ently above 50 per­cent since 2011, Amer­ic­ans who fa­vor it seem to think they’re in the minor­ity. A 2013 Gal­lup Poll showed that 63 per­cent of Amer­ic­ans thought the pub­lic was largely op­posed to same-sex mar­riage and only 30 per­cent thought the op­pos­ite. But as mo­mentum con­tin­ues to grow among pro­ponents of mar­riage equal­ity, the move­ment’s suc­cesses are be­com­ing more and more vis­ible — and the is­sue, per­haps, more main­stream.

The Gal­lup Poll sur­veyed 1,028 adults in all 50 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia, May 8-11. The mar­gin of er­ror is plus or minus 5 per­cent­age points.

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