Support for Marriage Equality Hits New High at 58 Percent: POLL


A new Washington Post-ABC News poll reveals that support for marriage equality is at a new high:

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…

…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.


  1. daftpunkydavid says

    i’m sorry.. what?? i just can’t believe this… don’t get me wrong…. i would LOVE for this to be the case, and i certainly think the trajectory is in the direction of acceptance of marriage for gay couples, but 58 percent?? i’ll wait for other similar polls to really celebrate.

  2. brian says

    I don’t think people realize how much it meant for Obama to come out in support. The change in the opinions of African Americans has shifted DRAMATICALLY since then.

  3. kpo5 says

    I agree with Brian.

    We will NEVER have an openly ANTI-gay President again…ever. It’s too unpopular among the 30& under crowd and, though this poll may be optimistic, our opposition is literally dying.

    Think about that for a second – even if you’re not thrilled with Obama or even a gay Republican – because of this President, we’ll never have an openly anti-gay President again.


  4. Randy says

    I’m still not a fan of voter initiatives, but the time seems right to bring the fight to them now, instead of being on the defensive all the time.

  5. daftpunkydavid says

    jj: nothing special happened in 2010, other than the curbs intersecting. according to the graph, the slopes of both curves seem to have been pretty constant since sometime in 2004, meaning that people have been switching to the pro-gay side at similar rates since about mid-to-late 2004. 2004 is of course the year gay couples were allowed to marry in massachusetts…

  6. Michaelandfred says

    It really makes sense from a sociological perspective. People think in groups. Family, neighborhoods, schools, political parties, ethnicities, nations…..even fans of boy bands. People want to be one with the group, the insider not the outsider.

    The gay issue is moving so quickly because it quite frankly affects so few lives. For the vast majority it’s completely opinion based. As we’ve said over and over, our marriage doesn’t affect the marriage of anyone else. This is why we saw such a huge shift after Obama endorsed….huge numbers held no “real” opinion other than the one the group had. If the group switches….ok, me too.

    People don’t want to be on the losing team, especially when it doesn’t cost them anything or hurt anyone else. The majority accepts gays and marriage equality? Ok, then me too. Go with the flow. It’s human nature.

  7. Alex Parrish says

    This poll is misleading; it has never been “illegal” in the US for LGBT persons to be married — it just hasn’t been legally recognized. If the choice is between “legal” and “illegal” there are many people who do not want to see such marriages legally recognized who still don’t want them to suddenly become “illegal’. Very poor wording choice.

  8. Francis says

    Alex and Brian are right, and so is Michaelandfred.

    Yes, the word choice is poor. Yes, this poll is probably optimistic. But things are improving and that’s clear.

    The big problem is, as Michaelandfred put……a lot of the increase in support is group think along with not wanting to look like a bigot. Well, depending on if you look at it as a problem. It can be seen as a great thing, too. I see it as a problem because it’s soft support, almost fake support. Only around 38-41% of people are strongly for marriage equality based on this and other polls done recently. That’s why although popular opinion is shifting in our direction we’re still in a dogfight and homophobia is still the issue it is. A lot of people who claim to support us are very much apathetic or conflicted in some way.

    When we can go from 40% strong support to 50-55% strong support, which is going to happen as younger people grow older and are replaced with new generations of kids who have grown up in a more tolerant society, then we’re going to cruise. Just don’t believe, though, that belief in equal rights equals belief in social equality or acceptance.

  9. Thomas says

    Polls like this are only useful when an issue is being decided federally. But geography is really important to most social issues, where states play a significant role under our system. Until gay civil rights include marriage equality, employment non discrimination, etc., state level polls matter much more.

    It’s interesting to see these kinds of trends–even if overstated–during the foreclosure crisis and great recession. I thought people grew more socially conservative during times of economic distress.

  10. BABH says

    “it has never been “illegal” in the US for LGBT persons to be married”

    Um, yes, it has.

    Until 2011, marrying or attempting to marry someone of the same sex could get you fired from your military job. Before Lawrence in 2003, consummating a same sex marriage was a criminal offense in 13 States. Before the 1970s, marrying a person of the same sex was reason enough to deny you a security clearance, or a driver’s license – indeed it was reason enough to have you involuntarily committed to a psychiatric institution to be drugged and electrocuted.

    Read a history book sometime, young’un.

  11. Latino Texas says

    Historically, more people have died in the “name of God” than any other way throughout mankind’s existence: In his book, “Holy Horrors: An Illustrated History of Religious Murder and Madness,” James A. Haught chronicles a thousand years of religious hate ranging from the witch hunts, to the numerous crusades, to the Holy Inquisition, to the religious anti-Semitic influence, which lead to the persecution of Jews for the last 1,000 years.

    All of the aforementioned was sanctioned and/or instigated by Christianity and/or Catholicism by way of using their own religious interpretation (and passed down interpretation) to oppress based on gender, sexual orientation, religion and ethnicity. Furthermore, theologian Richard Rubenstein wrote that the Nazis “did not invent a new villain.they took over the 2,000-year-old Christian tradition of the Jew as a villain. The roots of the death camps must be sought in the mythic structure of Christianity.”

    Here is just one biblical passage that fueled Jewish hatred: “You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, ‘who killed the Lord Jesus’ and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.” (1 Thessalonians 2:14-16).

    Haught says, “Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined, and imprisoned, yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of the coercion? To make one half of the world fools and the other half hypocrites.” Also, “religious beliefs” have no basis or foundation from discriminating against someone who wants to marry someone of the same sex, for we are a country founded on the separation of church and state.

    In the USA, we live under a democracy, not a “theocracy,” so those against marriage equality, need to understand that “The United States Constitution,” our sacred document, is the reason why Blacks and Whites were able to marry (after it was illegal for so long to do so), and it’s same the reason why, very soon, I’ll be able to marry the person I want. I certainly have the right to believe in people’s incorrect and invalid “out-of-context” biblical interpretations, and inversely, I have the right to reject those outdated interpretations as well.

    My religion, spiritualism, is the religion of love: love of mankind whether they are poor, gay, Black, rich, transgendered, Hispanic, disabled, White, straight, Asian, or bisexual, and although I am non-denominational, I am a spiritual person and I do believe in God. However, I choose not to affiliate myself with any particular religion due to the outright hypocrisy of many who claim to be “religious” who point the finger to me, first, without pointing it at their own.

    With a divorce rate nationally at 50%, half of heterosexuals continue to destroy the sanctity of marriage with marriages of convenience by marrying for money or opportunity instead of love, they have pre-marital sex outside of marriage, there is rampant adultery (a violation of a 10th Commandment by the way), and 1 out of every 3 straight women murder their babies through abortion in this country. Clearly, the “anti-gay” crowd has a lot to fix within their own heterosexual group, first, before citing biblical passages against us non-heterosexual persons.

    Fortunately, I’m an American citizen and I have the freedom to believe in a religion or no religion at all. We live in a free country, so it is reprehensible that some religious fanatics envision a world where religion is “indoctrinated” into everything in this country. Moreover, those who use religion as a divisive sword to divide, fear monger, and denounce, give those of us who also believe in God and equality for all, a bad name. Everyone, including gay people, deserves to be treated with dignity, compassion, and they should be affordable, just like others, the pursuit of happiness in their life.

    Truth be told, marriage equality is inevitable. In 1967, when the Supreme Court ruled that interracial marriage bans were unconstitutional, 72% of Americans were against “interracial marriage.” If that were put up to popular vote, in 1967, there is no doubt Americans would have voted against allowing Blacks and Whites to marry. Fortunately, as every year passes, more and more people support marriage equality, and a narrow majority of Americans now support it, so those who oppose marriage equality are not only on the wrong side of history, but their beliefs will, fortunately, (as the polls indicate) be a part of history as well.

    Finally, if someone does not support marriage equality, I have a very simple solution: don’t get married to someone of the same-sex! Meanwhile, let other people live their lives and marry the person they want. No one tells them who they should marry, so why do they feel the need to get involved in the love lives of non-heterosexuals? Respectfully, individuals against marriage equality need to leave me (and others) “the-hell-alone” and let me marry who I want. I should be able to control my own love life; I’m not involved in their marriage or their love life, so they should stay out of mine and let me have the freedom to live my life, which includes the ability to marry the person I want.

  12. BABH says

    andrew: A lot of people aged 65-75 were hippies in their 20s and 30s, and a lot of people aged 75-90 were beatniks. 44% actually seems low to me, even though the marriage movement is barely 20 years old.

    Come out to your grandparents, people! They’re not monsters.

  13. DB says

    Truly awesome. I would assume support for marriage would be closer to 70% than 58%, but this is obviously huge progress. Considering that support for legalizing inter-racial marriage was less than 30% at the time it was legalized in 1967, we can see that support for marriage equality is much stronger and growing much faster than other civil rights struggles.

  14. Nat says

    “A lot of people aged 65-75 were hippies in their 20s and 30s, and a lot of people aged 75-90 were beatniks.”

    Not really. By definition, counterculture movements exist on the fringe of society, and beatniks and hippies were both countercultural movements. There were wider cultural expressions, e.g. the student protest movement, but most people fell out of activism as they moved into their actual careers.

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