Majority of Americans Support Marriage Equality

For those right-wing pundits who are trying to craft the campaign narrative Obama's support of same-sex marriage hurts his chances for re-election: read it and weep, because a majority of Americans support the right of same-sex couples to marry. A new Gallup poll—entitled "US Acceptance of Gay/Lesbian Relations is the New Normal"—reports that over half of Americans feel that way, boosted by an increase in visibility for the movement and the legalization of gay marriage and civil unions in various states across the country:

Gallup's longer-term question measuring U.S. attitudes about gays asks whether gay or lesbian relations should or should not be legal. The 63% now saying gay relations should be legal nearly matches the record-high 64% of a year ago, which came after a long-term increase in support for legality from 32% in 1986.

Demographically, Democrats in their poll supported same-sex marriage in greater numbers, as well as women, and adults ages 18-34. And among Christians, Catholics are more supportive of same-sex marriage than Protestants—something the Conference of Catholic Bishops might want to take note of before they further alienate constituents within a flagging religious institution. Here's Gallup's numbers summary:

Americans' acceptance of gays and lesbians as equal members of society has increased steadily in the past decade to the point that half or more now agree that being gay is morally acceptable, that gay relations ought to be legal, and that gay or lesbian couples should have the right to legally marry. While public support has been trending upward, support on all three measures was slightly higher in 2011 than in the new 2012 poll, suggesting attitudes may be leveling off -- at least for the time being. However, they are stabilizing at a point that makes President Obama's decision to publicly support gay marriage much less controversial than it would have been even four years ago. Significant pockets of resistance remain -- namely Republicans, those 55 and older, Protestants, residents of the South, and, in some respects, men -- but majorities of other groups have grown comfortable with gay rights.

Meanwhile, a slew of supporters and detractors hit the news and public this weekend to weigh in—the wildest of which being Newsweek's controversy-trolling cover, which depicts President Obama wearing a rainbow halo above the caption, "The First Gay President?" (Come on, dudes.) The story, written by Andrew Sullivan, posits that Obama's experience as biracial in America possibly gives him a deeper understanding of what it's like to be gay in America, and is definitely going to piss some people off in the abstract. But Sullivan makes some good points, particularly when he details the legislative process that brought Obama to this point of public endorsement, and when he writes about his personal experience. The kicker:

I have always sensed that he intuitively understands gays and our predicament—because it so mirrors his own. And he knows how the love and sacrifice of marriage can heal, integrate, and rebuild a soul. The point of the gay-rights movement, after all, is not about helping people be gay. It is about creating the space for people to be themselves. This has been Obama’s life’s work. And he just enlarged the space in this world for so many others, trapped in different cages of identity, yearning to be released and returned to the families they love and the dignity they deserve.

Generous and lovely. Read that full piece here.


AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at May 14, 2012, 4:38am

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