The killer number to come out of the Pew Research Center’s survey on attitudes toward marriage equality is 72. Meaning, 72 percent of those polled believe that same-sex marriage is “inevitable.” That’s an incredible statistic to ponder, especially as we wait for the Supreme Court to hand down rulings in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases. What’s more incredible is that that the sense of inevitability permeates every strata of American society.

It is highest (82 percent) among those with a college degree or more and  those who identified as religiously “unaffiliated.” It is lowest (62 percent) among those with a high school diploma or less and among Hispanics. But it should be noted that 60 percent of Hispanics support same-sex marriage. The biggest gap between support for marriage equality and belief in its inevitability as national policy is among white evangelicals. While 22 percent support same-sex marriage, 70 percent say legal recognition is inevitable. That’s a 48-point swing.

A supporter of same-sex marriage wears a rainbow flag in front of the U.S. Supreme Court. A supporter of same-sex marriage wears a rainbow flag in front of the Supreme Court building (Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg)

Right now, 12 states and the District of Columbia have marriage equality. Half of those states did so in just the past six months. The voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington state legalized same-sex marriage last November. Since the Supreme Court arguments in March, three more states — Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota — have done so. According to the latest New York Times poll, 60 percent believe that leaving such decisions to the states is the way to go. Sometime this month, the Supreme Court will let us know whether it agrees. And don’t be surprised if it does.

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