It’s been clear for quite some time that public opinion is trending steadily toward acceptance of gay marriage. The question is not whether that trend will result in plurality or majority support for gay marriage, but when. Based on recent survey results we may have already reached that point.
The first piece of evidence is from the General Social Survey, a long-running academic survey conducted by the University of Chicago. In just-released data from their 2010 survey, we find that 46 percent of Americans now say that same-sex couples should be allowed to get married, compared to 40 percent who are opposed. That compares to 12 percent in favor and 73 percent opposed in 1988 when the question was first asked.
A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll confirms this finding. Fifty-three percent in that poll said it should be legal for gay and lesbian couples to get married compared to 44 percent who thought it should be illegal. This is the first time the poll has found majority support for gay marriage since it started asking the question in 2003.
We will see more, even stronger findings like these as the months and years go by. It is time for the opponents of gay marriage to admit defeat and leave the stage gracefully.
Ruy Teixeira is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. To learn more about his public opinion analysis go to the Media and Progressive Values page and the Progressive Studies program page of our website.