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Two in Three Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage

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Politics May 23, 2018

Two in Three Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage

by Justin McCarthy

Story Highlights

  • 67% of U.S. adults say gay marriages should be legally valid
  • New high in support for gay marriage in Gallup's trend
  • Democrats remain more in favor than Republicans

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sixty-seven percent of Americans support same-sex marriage -- the highest level in Gallup's trend. In each of the past three annual polls, Gallup has recorded three-percentage point increases among Americans who say same-sex marriages should be legally valid. The current figure is up 40 percentage points from the 27% who supported gay marriage when Gallup first polled on the question in 1996.

These data are from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 1-10.

Some of the increases in support may be due to greater numbers of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) adults getting married in the U.S. Using data for all of 2017, Gallup has found that more than 10.4% of LGBT adults are married to a same-sex spouse. This means that Americans are more likely to know someone who has married a same-sex partner, and the visibility of these marriages may be playing a role in overturning some folks' previously held opposition to their legal status.

Gay marriage became legal nationwide in 2015 upon the Supreme Court's Obergefell decision. This came more than a decade after the first state, Massachusetts, had legalized gay marriage. In the years leading up to the decision, a patchwork of state laws were created for and against same-sex marriage.

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Democrats Reach New High in Support for Same-Sex Marriage

Democrats remain the most likely to support gay marriage among party groups. The 83% of Democrats in favor of legally recognized same-sex marriages is the highest level of support recorded for this group.

Democrats are nearly twice as likely as Republicans to support legal recognition of gay marriages -- less than half of the GOP favors legal gay marriage (44%). The latest figure for Republicans' views on gay marriage is similar to the 47% recorded in 2017. The GOP has seen growth in the percentage of Republicans who favor legally recognized gay marriage over the years, but has yet to reach majority support.

Meanwhile, independents' opinions on the issue are closer to those of Democrats. Currently, 71% of independents say gay marriages should be recognized by the law as valid, matching this group's previous high from last year.

Bottom Line

With the third anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision nearing and no formidable opposition trying to undo gay marriage's legality, it's likely that the percentage of married LGBT adults in the U.S. will continue to grow as new generations of same-sex couples enjoy their newfound rights.

The trend toward increased public support for same-sex marriage could very well continue, given that there is still room for increased support among Democrats and independents. Reaching a national consensus on the issue would depend more on greater acceptance among Republicans, who remain mostly opposed to legally recognized same-sex marriages.

In addition to the general trend toward greater acceptance of gay marriage, the same-sex weddings taking place across the country may be softening opposition among some Americans who once feared for what legalization would bring. But now that it's been legal for nearly three years -- and even longer in certain states -- some opponents to gay marriage may be rethinking their previous opposition.

Americans have changed their minds on the legality of other issues as well. Gallup's trend on support for legalization of marijuana has largely mirrored its trend on legalization of gay marriage. On both issues, support gained steadily in the 2000s before reaching majority level in the 2010s.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted May 1-10, 2018, with a random sample of 1,024 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

[View survey methodology, complete question responses and trends.]

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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May 23, 2018
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