Washington Post-ABC News Poll: Majority of Americans Support Marriage Equality

A new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News shows, for the first time, a majority supporting same-sex marriage:

Prop8 Five years ago, at 36 percent, support for gay marriage barely topped a third of all Americans. Now, 53 percent say gay marriage should be legal, marking the first time in Post-ABC polling that a majority has said so.

“This is very consistent with a lot of other polling data we’ve seen and the general momentum we’ve seen over the past year and a half,” said Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, a leading pro-gay-marriage group. “As people have come to understand this is about loving, committed families dealing, like everyone, with tough times, they understand how unfair it is to treat them differently.”

Opponents of same-sex marriage took issue with the poll, which asks respondents: “Do you think it should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married?” Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, argued that the term “illegal” could be inferred to mean that violators could be imprisoned, which most Americans would consider harsh.

The WaPo notes several demographic shifts:

Men, who previously were less supportive of same-sex marriage than women, now back it at the same rate. Support among college-educated whites, political independents and people who do not consider themselves religious also rose substantially.

Republicans, conservatives and white evangelical Christians remain the groups most opposed to legalizing gay marriage.

The survey also shows a shift in how intensely people feel on this issue. In the past, the number of Americans who felt strongly that gay marriage should be banned far outnumbered those who were passionate in their belief that it should be legal. That has balanced out, with 35 percent strongly against legal gay marriage and 36 percent strongly in favor.

Slim majority back gay marriage, Post-ABC poll says [washington post]


  1. Francis says

    All of these polls showing marriage support at or slightly above 50% are encouraging, especially since people under 18 and 18-34 are our biggest support group and when the old bigots die off our support will continue to grow. However, it’s the bottom line that matters the most and that is still a major problem. Only slightly over a 1/3 of people really care about our marriage rights. And when we get to the polls or when it comes to publicly backing us, these people are nowhere to be found. That’s why we can’t rely on “a majority of Americans” to do anything for us.

  2. Charlie says

    As @Francis says, too often this issue is decided in the voting booth. And since older people vote in higher numbers this still probably doesn’t ranslate into a win in an election.

    I found the wording to be neutral. The ways that questions are worded do have a large impact on the results. So FRC will probably go out and commission a poll using the term same-sex marriage and HRC will probably do one using the term marriage equality.

  3. Derrick from Philly says

    It’s not only the age of those most likely to vote, it’s also the location of these pro marriage equality voters. Where are they? What parts of the country do they live?

    There’s still no reason (except integrity) for a Blue Dawg Democrat to vote for marriage equality or other progressive policy changes. Why? Because his/her poll numbers show more conservative views among his/her constituents. The President found that out the hard way on many issues since he came to office.

    Gay Americans’ civil rights won’t come through popular votes, not through most state legislatures, not through the Congress, not through the White House (not directly). Gay civil rights equality will come through federal courts…it usually has for minorities. Then somebody has to enforce the federal courts’ decisions.

  4. Walter H says

    Thing is, when it comes to civil rights, polls really don’t matter. What’s right is right, and what’s wrong is wrong. Discrimination is wrong. And I don’t care how an issue polls – I care that the justice system sees the *injustice* in the discrimination, and makes it right.

  5. Kyle says

    Why should this even be put up for a vote? I don’t get it. How can someones human right be determined by a vote?. Some of the TV ads I saw during prop 8 put me into depression mode for months,

  6. Rick says

    I am skeptical about the poll results; I mean we cannot even get majorities among legislators in the blueest states in the country to vote in favor of same-sex marriage, much less in the Heartland or the South. People are either lying for the sake of being PC or they don’t really understand the question, IMO. I do think we will win out eventually, but I don’t think we are there yet.

    The poll mentions that as high a percentage of men are in favor as are women–Has anybody noticed how the real crusaders for gay rights of late have been straight men? Lieberman and Kennedy on DADT, Cuomo on gay marriage, the two lawyers going after Prop 8, athletes like Charles Barkley. Really, this is THE most encouraging sign of all, long term, because if we can wrench homophobia out of the male culture, then everything else will be a piece of cake…..

  7. Patric says

    Rick, I do think that the question was poorly worded (though WaPo has used this same wording in prior polls and I think that the trend lines across this and other polls are unmistakable). What matters more than the bottom line number is the intensity measure discussed in the final paragraph of this post. While more and more people are supportive of equality, most of them do not feel strongly enough about this issue to call their legislator or to withhold their vote from a candidate they would otherwise support. This is a challenge in places like Maryland: those profiles in cowardice – the legislators whose waffling ensured our defeat there – were getting lots more calls from the opponents of equality than from its supporters. Also, even in any individual state support for equality is not spread equally across legislative districts. Support may be very high in areas where lots of highly educated professionals live, low in rural areas and about even in a whole lot of other places and “about even” is not what gets a politician motivated by polls more than principle to move.

  8. Bruno says

    It’s almost eerie how poll after poll is starting to show either even results (Pew) or favorable towards marriage equality nationwide, yet poll after poll show not enough support amongst voters in the bluest of states. Sure, the “likely voters” are more conservative, but I have a hard time believing in these things when California only shows 51% or Maryland 46%.

  9. says

    “I mean we cannot even get majorities among legislators in the blueest states in the country to vote in favor of same-sex marriage, much less in the Heartland or the South.”

    What are you talking about? We had legislative majorities in California, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont pass marriage equality.

    In Vermont we had a super-majority in BOTH houses override a bigoted Governor’s veto. It CAN be done. Especially in the bluest states.

  10. Gregv says

    I find it amusing that Brian Brown of NOM would try to portray himself as a critic of poll bias. The poll that NOM prefers was conducted by a Mormon bishop and called landlines only (favored, of course, by older people). The main question started with the words: “as far as you personally are concerned, should marriage be between a man and a woman…”. Of course, that phrasing helps push the thoughts of people (most of whom are heterosexual) onto what their own, PERSONAL marriage looks like or what they would personally prefer for their sons or daughters or what they’d PERSONALLY like to attend at their church. They might get similar results if they asked if it should be between two Chrstians, “as far as you, personally are concerned.
    In the same survey that NOM sponsored and Brian Brown liked, respondents were asked if “legislators or voters” should decide. What? No third option? Nothing about courts ensuring that everyone’s constitutional rights are honored? Of course it was a leading question, as respondents to such questions will tend to say on a whim that they should decide ANY given question.

    I do agree that any such survey has to be understood in contexts. The question in the WaPo/ABC poll, if asked 60 years ago, or today in Uganda, might well have made respondents think that “legal” meant “not jailed.”.

    But people will tend to interpret the question according to current events and prevalent debates in their own society. In this case, I’m sure Brian Brown knows most respondents would think that “legal” means contractually recognized by the state.

  11. wimsy says

    Republicans, conservatives and white evangelical Christians remain the groups most opposed to gay marriage, equality, change, or social progress of any kind. They demand that their hateful narrow view of the world must prevail.

  12. says

    A slight majority of Americans now support marriage equality according to a poll by The Washington Post and ABC News.A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that 53% of Americans … A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that a majority of Americans support marriage … ago in the same poll, when 36% supported marriage equality.

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