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Same-Sex Marriage Is Supported by More Americans Than Ever Before

same-sex couple getting married

Research by Gallup shows increasing support for same-sex marriage, even as it faces potential threats from the Supreme Court. 

Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted in May, found that 71 percent of Americans support legal same-sex marriage, an all-time high.

When Gallup began polling on the subject in 1996, only 27 percent of respondents supported legalizing same-sex marriage. Those numbers climbed very slowly over the years, only reaching a majority in 2011, 15 years later. By 2015, 60 percent of those surveyed were in support, just months before the Obergefell v. Hodges decision by the Supreme Court made such unions legal nationwide. Last year, the poll showed that the number had increased to 70 percent.

While the number of people who support same-sex marriage has grown overall, there is one holdout group: "weekly churchgoers." Those who say they attend a place of worship nearly weekly or monthly have not yet reached a majority in their support; 40 percent said they back the unions while 58 percent remain opposed. This number has barely budged since Gallup first began polling on the subject in 2016, having stayed steadily within the 39 percent to 44 percent range. Respondents who said they never attend church have always been most supportive of same-sex marriage, according to Gallup polling.

Churchgoers are an outlier, as polling shows that support has risen steadily even among demographics who traditionally wouldn't have backed the marriages, including adults aged 64 and older, who reached a majority of support in 2016, followed by Protestants in 2017, and even Republicans in 2021.

Overall, the latest poll shows the trend of growing acceptance for same-sex marriage continues to slowly tick upwards. Despite this, legal same-sex marriages face potential threats from the Supreme Court. A leaked draft opinion in May that would roll back Roe v. Wade also indicates that Obergefell may be targeted by the court -- a decision that would clearly be in opposition to public opinion and beliefs.

In response to the findings, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement, "Seven years after Obergefell, it's ever more apparent that LGBTQ couples are worthy of love and recognition and that our families are welcome and valued. Obergefell and Roe are landmark decisions for a reason: because they ensure freedoms and protections and are fully supported by a wide majority of Americans. If anything, Congress and the Supreme Court should move to reflect the will of the people by codifying protections against discrimination. Being free to contribute to the success of our communities and country should never be left up to extremist lawmakers or a handful of disapproving justices on the Court."

"This new data not only shows the continuing growth of support for same-sex marriage but also underscores what we have long known -- anti-LGBTQ+ politicians and activists attacking marriage equality do not reflect the beliefs of the nation and are working contrary to public opinion," Sarah Warbelow, Human Rights Campaign's legal director, said in a release. "Notably, the Supreme Court doesn't take public opinion into account when makings its decision; the Court will override decades of precedent if it strikes down Roe, despite the fact that a majority of Americans support access to abortion care. If that does indeed happen, it will likely embolden state legislatures - who have already been introducing and passing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation at a record pace - to continue to test the limits of court recognized LGBTQ+ equality. "

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