Gay Marriage Support Has Risen Steadily Since 2004

PewGayMarriageNeed more evidence that equality opponents are on the wrong side of history? The latest Pew Research poll shows a steady increase in the percentage of Americans who support same-sex marriage. Forty-seven percent of those tallied back marriage, with only 43% saying they oppose it. Support is up 8 points since 2008 and 16 from 2004. Opposition has therefore obviously fallen: 51% told Pew in 2008 they're against marriage equality. Sixty percent said the same in 2004.

Most encouragingly, though, the number of people who "strongly" support marriage is on the rise, too:

…For the first time in a Pew Research Center survey there is as much strong support as strong opposition to gay marriage. In the current survey, 22% say they strongly support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally; an identical percentage (22%) strongly opposes gay marriage. In 2008, there was about twice as much strong opposition to as strong support for gay marriage (30% vs. 14%).

In 2004, when the issue was widely thought to have increased turnout among socially conservative voters in several key states, 36% strongly opposed gay marriage while just 11% strongly favored it.

Most of the support comes from predictable voting blocs, Democrats (59%) and Independents (52%), but it's heartening to hear that while Republicans as a whole still disagree with same-sex nuptials (68%, with only 23% support), general opposition among the GOP ranks has fallen 10 points since 2004. Strong opposition has fallen 14 points.

Not all the news out of this poll is as comforting, though: Pew found that 49% of Americans think it's more important to protect gun ownership rights, a steady increase since the 2008 election. Only 45% believe gun control is more important. Prior to the 2008 election, about 60% preferred control over bearing arms.


  1. Paul R says

    It always surprises me how large the percentage of “Don’t know” is in polls like this. Perhaps some of those polled are grappling with the issues, but I think most are just stupid.

  2. Yuki says

    Perhaps “don’t know” just means they haven’t thought about it enough to formulate a true opinion. Still iffy–it’s a rather easy question to answer–but they could be on the fence or some such thing.

  3. Chitown kev says

    straight people can afford to be apathetic about same-sex marriage

    white people can actually afford to be apathetic about race

    (interestingly, I have to think about whether this applies to a male apathy toward women…I don’t think it applies but I want to think about it.)

  4. says

    @Paul R: I think what is really stupid is the reasoning the opposing side uses to be against equal rights. (“They’ll want to teach our children that people can marry goats!”… “If we don’t meet their quotas of same-sex couples at our churches, we’ll risk getting sued!”… The gays will cause hurricanes!”, etc, etc.)
    The people who “don’t know” may be in a transitional period where they are just beginning to learn why same-sex couples need these rights (which is at least a step above the worst bigots), or some of them may have an answer that is more nuanced than they can answer in the survey.
    It seems strange to me that these surveys NEVER ask the follow up question: “Do you support the right of mixed-sex couples to have marriage rights?”
    I know a LOT of straight men who have been burned by ex-wives who financially took them to the cleaners and some of them can only wish they had never had the “opportunity” to get married.
    To me what is crucial is they we all have exactly the same rights to marriage.
    These surveys are very exciting, in that we have finally passed the threshold where being against equality is a minority (and an ever-shrinking one) and from now on, strong supporters of equality will forever (and increasingly) outnumber opponents.
    This will no doubt be reflected in the main parties’ policy positions. Democratic contenders of the future will not be able to be sen as progressive just for elbow-nudging and winking at us while saying that they are “learning” and “evolving, if-you-know-what-I-mean.”

  5. mary says

    “or some of them may have an answer that is more nuanced than they can answer in the survey.”

    GregV, this is impressive. I’ve never heard anyone on the pro-SSM side every indicate that anyone against same sex marriage may have a reason too nuanced to express in an opinion poll. At least you’re acknowledging that there is more than one way to look at this issue,regardless of what your own position is. And I can attest that this issue IS full of nuances. I barely know what side I’m on regarding same sex marriage. Still officially opposed to it, but that that may not last much longer!

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