A new poll out today from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life ratifies some of what we already know about public attitudes toward marriage equality. Democrats, Independents and white non-Hispanic Catholics are for it. Republicans, African Americans and white evangelical Protestants are not. It bursts the popular storyline (that I willfully engaged in) that President Obama’s public declaration of support for marriage-equality markedly changed hearts and minds among African Americans. But it also confirms an undeniable truth. Support for legal recognition of same-sex couples continues to rise.
The chart at right tells the story. In the four years since the 2008 survey, there has been a 15-percent jump in support among Democrats (65 percent), seven percent among Independents (51 percent) and five percent among Republicans (24 percent). Republicans are the most opposed to marriage equality (70 percent). Overall, 48 percent are in favor and 44 percent are not.
African Americans aren’t too keen on same-sex marriage either. The Pew poll reports that “the share of African Americans who support gay marriage is no higher today than it was before Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage.” That was in May. An April Pew poll put support at 39 percent. Today, it’s 40 percent. But according to this latest survey, “it is up substantially from 26 percent in 2008 and 21 percent in 2004.”
The one group that Pew says does appear to have been swayed by Obama’s pronouncement are liberal Democrats.
. . .Obama’s announcement may have rallied the Democratic base — particularly liberal Democrats — to the issue. Democrats supported gay marriage by a 59% to 31% margin in April — that stands at 65% to 29% today. Most of this shift has come among liberal Democrats, 83% of whom now support gay marriage, up from 73% earlier this year.
For all the opposition by leaders in the Catholic Church, their flock isn’t following. “Nearly six-in-ten white non- Hispanic Catholics (59%) favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry,” Pew reports, “as do 57% of Hispanic Catholics.” This shouldn’t come as too surprising. Catholics have been leading the way on same-sex marriage for some time now.
“[T]here has been a rise in support for gay marriage across many demographic groups, even those who have traditionally been the most opposed,” Pew explains. “A large portion of the growth in acceptance of gay marriage over the past two decades is the result of generational replacement — the arrival of younger, more supportive generations making up a larger share of the population. But the pace of change in support for gay marriage has increased in recent years across generational lines.”
One day, the laws of this nation will reflect this. It’s not a matter of if, but when.