Support for marriage equality in the United States is on the rise, according to the latest survey on the issue by Pew Research Center.
In the survey conducted earlier this month, 47% of respondents said they favored marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples, while 43% said they were opposed.
The numbers are a veritable sea change compared to surveys in 2004 and 2008 on the subject. In 2004, for example, only 31% of respondents said they supported marriage rights for gay couples; nearly twice as many people at the time said they were opposed.
The numbers track other polls showing an accelerated support for marriage equality, with some surveys indicating majority support.
Pew Research notes:
Moreover, for the first time in a Pew Research Center survey there is as much strong support as strong opposition to gay marriage. In the current survey, 22% say they strongly support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally; an identical percentage (22%) strongly opposes gay marriage. In 2008, there was about twice as much strong opposition to as strong support for gay marriage (30% vs. 14%).
Since 2004, there has been a broad-based decline in opposition – including strong opposition – to gay marriage. In 2004, Americans younger than 30 were divided (48% opposed, 45% favored). Today, young people favor gay marriage by more than two-to-one (65% to 30%). Opposition has declined by the same percentage – 18 points – among those 65 and older; still, a majority (56%) of this group continues to oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Strong opposition has declined 18 points since 2004 among those 65 and older (from 46% to 28%) and 14 points among those younger than 30 (from 28% to 14%).
The gap between blacks and whites on the issue has also narrowed, Pew found in the new survey, which also measured attitudes on other contentious social issues such as gun rights and abortion:
Since 2008, the proportion of African Americans favoring gay marriage has increased from 26% to 39%, while opposition has fallen from 63% to 49%.
Support for gay marriage also has increased among whites, though far less dramatically (from 41% in 2008 to 47% in the current survey).
Read the report here.