Gallup released a new poll on Wednesday showing that support for same-sex marriage has now reached its highest level since the polling firm first started tracking this issue in 1996. Currently, 55% of Americans support same-sex marriage. Conversely, only 42% of adults oppose marriage equality, a new low for the poll. As one would expect, support is highest among young adults and Democrats, while older people and Republicans show the most opposition. However, support among conservatives and senior citizens has consistently risen over the years.
74% of Democrats responded that they support the gay marriage. This is a 5-point bump from last year, when 69% expressed support for marriage equality. Back in 1996, only 33% of Democrats were in favor of same-sex marriage. As for Republicans, only 30% stated that they feel that two people of the same sex should be allowed to marry. While this is low, it is still four points higher than last year. And, in 1996, only 16% of Republicans favored gay marriage. So there is definitely positive movement happening even among Republicans. 58% of independents expressed support for marriage equality, which is the same as it was last year
Ideologically, liberals, as one would guess, showed the most support for same-sex marriage. 82% of liberals said they favor marriage equality. Meanwhile, 63% of moderates supported the issue followed by 31% of conservatives. The conservative support has steadily improved, as gay marriage only received 14% approval in 1996 and 28% last year.
Young adults, aged 18-29, are overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality, as 78% feel it should be legal in the United States. 54% of 30-49 year-olds feel the same way. As for older Americans, 48% of those aged 50-64 believe in marriage equality, while 42% of those 65 or older feel it should be the law of the land. Support across all age groups has steadily increased over the years.
Regionally, the greatest support for same-sex marriage is in the East, where 67% of adults feel it should be law. As one would expect, due to the large proliferation of Christian evangelicals in the region, the South shows the least amount of support. However, it isn’t as low as one would imagine, as 48% of the region is in favor of marriage equality. More than half of those in both the Midwest and West support gay marriage.
Gallup’s Justin McCarthy wrote the following regarding this poll:
For proponents of marriage equality, years of playing offense have finally paid off as this movement has reached a tipping point in recent years — both legally and in the court of public opinion. The latest gains are in Pennsylvania and Oregon, with court challenges in Utah, Oklahoma, and Virginia likely to be determined soon. Having spent years trying to influence state lawmakers to take action, gay marriage supporters’ game strategy has officially pivoted to challenging state bans in court. One key question in the legal battle is the constitutionality of voter-approved state bans.
Younger Americans are more supportive of same-sex marriage, and this will likely continue to drive overall support at the gradual pace it has increased over recent years. While the map of gay marriage is regionally diverse, it is not so in the South, where traditional marriage advocates still hold a majority of support. Public opinion in southern states will be a barometer to observe, as the bulk of future legal battles will play out there in the months and years to come.
Obviously, with 14 consecutive legal victories in various states that had laws banning same-sex marriage, it seems that the majority of Americans realize the inevitability of marriage equality for the nation as a whole. Not only do they see the inevitability, they are in favor of it.