With the passing of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell marriage equality ruling’s two-year anniversary last week, it’s important to take a look at how public opinions around same-sex marriage continue to change.
The latest update from Gallup’s Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 3-7, 2017, reveals some interesting information regarding what changes have occurred in people’s opinions, both inside and outside the LGBTQ community.
This year’s headline finding on marriage equality, is that 64% percent of adults now say that same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid. Gallup notes that while this is not dramatically different from 2016’s 61% figure, this remains the highest percentage to date, and continues the steady upward trend recorded since Gallup started asking this question in 1996.
Alongside high percentage of support from Democrats (74%), the data reveal increasing support among independents (71%), as well as a slowly fading divide between Democrats and Republicans. While in 2017, only 47% of Republicans favor legal recognition of same-sex marriages, Gallup notes this is also the highest percentage for this group in the more than two-decade trend.
Gallup’s survey also examines support from those of different religious affiliations, showing that:
“U.S. Protestants, including all non-Catholic Christians, are now about twice as likely to support gay marriage as they were in 1996 (55% vs. 27%). In recent years, some protestant churches have moved toward supporting same-sex unions; however, this year’s poll is the first time Protestant support has reached the majority level.”
Finally, Gallup reminds us that Americans are still more likely to support same-sex relations over same-sex marriage, with 72% of Americans in favor (compared to 64% in favor of legal marriage equality). Gallup commentator Justin McCarthy suggests “the marriage question pushes a moral, religious, or cultural boundary for some people that gay relationships do not.”
Overall, two facts stand out in Gallup’s 2017 update: a majority of US Protestants now support legal recognition of same-sex marriage, and we are just a few percentage points away from a similar majority position among Republicans. Marriage equality is, of course, already the law of the land, but efforts to narrow or undermine the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision continue, coming both from the Supreme Court itself (see Justice Gorsuch’s dissent in the Court’s response to Pavan v. Smith last week) and in the states, with decisions challenging Obergefell coming from Arkansas, Mississippi, and Texas. This makes clear that despite these encouraging statistics we still have much work to do, both to defend legal equality for same-sex couples, and to achieve lived equality for all in the LGBTQ community.