Most Americans support marriage equality, but even more of them believe same-sex couples should be able to legally adopt children, according to a new poll.
The Gallup poll, released last month, shows a clear majority of respondents in support of adoption equality. This finding holds across all major demographics, although there are definite spans across party lines — 80% of Democrats, 61 percent of independents, and 51 percent of Republicans support adoption rights — and age groups, with 77 percent support among 18-29 year olds, and 52 percent among those 65 and older.
Gallup notes that support for equal adoption rights has been steadily increasing since 2008. When Gallup first started polling Americans on this question in 1992, the findings were a direct opposite, with 63 percent of respondents opposed to same-sex couples being allowed to legally adopt. Today, more than 16,000 American same-sex couples have adopted an estimated 22,000 children, according to the polling agency.
In its assessment, Gallup points out that public support for equal adoption, currently at 63 percent, has remained higher than public support for equal marriage, currently at 55 percent. That's to be expected, says LGBT public policy expert Gary Gates, of the University of California Los Angeles School of Law’s Williams Institute.
"In general, adults in the U.S. continue to be more supportive of same-sex parenting than legal recognition of same-sex relationships or comfortableness with same-sex sexual behavior," Gates told Gallup, citing the persistence of antisodomy laws in some states, despite the fact that such laws were declared universally unconstitutional with the Supreme Court's 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas.
Gates attributes Americans’ quicker consensus on equal adoption, in part, to the fact that "even lesser forms of relationship recognition — such as civil unions and domestic partnerships — have included the right for same-sex couples to jointly adopt children" for nearly two decades.