Support For Same-Sex Marriage Grows, Even Among Groups That Had Been Skeptical

Jun 26, 2017

Two years after the Supreme Court decision that required states to recognize same-sex marriages nationwide, support for allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally is at its highest point in over 20 years of Pew Research Center polling on the issue.

By a margin of nearly two-to-one (62% to 32%), more Americans now say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry than say they are opposed.

Views on same-sex marriage have shifted dramatically in recent years. As recently as 2010, more Americans opposed (48%) than favored (42%) allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. In the past year alone, support has increased seven percentage points: In March 2016, 55% favored same-sex marriage, while 37% were opposed.

The latest national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted June 8-18 among 2,504 adults finds striking increases in support for same-sex marriage among some demographic and partisan groups that, until recently, had broadly opposed it, including:

Baby Boomers. For the first time, a majority of Baby Boomers favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Currently, 56% of Boomers favor same-sex marriage, while 39% are opposed. Last year, opinion among Boomers was divided (46% favored/48% opposed).

African Americans. Blacks have long been less supportive of same-sex marriage when compared with whites, but the share of African Americans who favor same-sex marriage has risen 12 percentage points since 2015, from 39% to 51%.

Republicans. For the first time, a majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents do not oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Today, 48% of Republicans and Republican leaners oppose same-sex marriage, while 47% favor this. As recently as 2013, Republicans opposed gay marriage by nearly two-to-one (61% to 33%).

Younger white evangelicals. Overall, white evangelical Protestants continue to stand out for their opposition to same-sex-marriage: 35% of white evangelical Protestants favor same-sex marriage, compared with a 59% majority who are opposed. But younger white evangelicals have grown more supportive: 47% of white evangelical Millennials and Gen Xers – age cohorts born after 1964 – favor same-sex marriage, up from 29% in March 2016. Views among older white evangelicals (Boomers and Silents) have shown virtually no change over the past year (26% now, 25% then).

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