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Public Opinion Snapshot: Support for Marriage Equality Increases, Support for Abortion Rights Holds Steady

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Conservatives continue to push hardline positions on social issues, but evidence is piling up that they are out of tune with the public. The prime example is marriage equality. While conservatives fret about marriage equality’s alleged threat to the American way of life, the public is quietly coming to terms with its reality.

According to just-released Pew Research Center data, opposition to marriage equality averaged 60 percent in 2004, dropped to 51 percent by 2008, and in their latest poll is just 43 percent. A plurality, 47 percent, now support “allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally,” a finding consistent with a number of other recent national polls.

public supports marriage equality

Meanwhile, a steady majority supports women’s reproductive rights. The same poll found 53 percent saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 39 percent who thought it should be illegal in all or most cases. This is very close to the average split over the last couple of years, which, in turn, is very close to the split back in 2007-08.

public supports women's reproductive rights

These data suggest that conservatives’ attempts to revive the culture wars over social issues is not likely to be successful. That’s bad for them but good for the country.

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.

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This is part of a regular column: Public Opinion Snapshot

For more from the same column, click here