Same-Sex Marriage Support Rises, Even Among Republicans and White Evangelicals

Same-Sex Marriage U.S.
Gordon Satterly, 61, kisses his husband, Richard Brand, 53, at the International Gay Rodeo Association's Rodeo In the Rock party in Little Rock, Arkansas, on April 24, 2015. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Two-thirds of Americans now back same-sex marriage, among them almost half of Republicans and larger proportions of religious people—the highest level of support ever registered by a survey that polled opinions every year for two decades.

Some 62 percent of Americans now say they back the rights of gay and lesbian people to marry, versus 32 percent who say they are opposed, the Pew Research Center poll found.

This marks a spike in support since March last year, when 55 percent of Americans were in favor, and a huge rise since 2010, when more Americans were against (48 percent) same-sex marriage than supported it (42 percent).

For the first time, there is no majority among Republicans—whose party has often opposed liberal LGBT rights policies—against gay marriage; 48 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning voters are opposed, while 47 percent support same-sex marriage.

Among those in favor are, for the first time, the baby boomer generation, of whom 56 percent now back same sex-marriage, with 39 percent against it. This marks a significant rise from last year’s survey, which saw 46 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed.

Among religious groups, support had risen, but opinions were split, with a majority of Catholics (67 percent) supporting same-sex marriage, whereas evangelical Protestants still retained a majority who oppose it. However, though white evangelical Protestants remain most strongly opposed, with 59 percent, those born after 1964 in the group (Gen X and millennials) are moving toward being more supportive, with 47 percent in favor of same-sex marriage.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, millennials resoundingly endorse equal marriage rights, with fully 74 percent of 18- to 36-year-olds supporting it.

Black people have historically been far less likely than whites to back the rights of same-sex couples to wed. But the share of African-Americans who support same-sex marriage has now risen to 51 percent, a steep climb from 39 percent in 2015.

The poll comes as a Supreme Court case brings the issue of same-sex marriage back to the top of the political agenda. The court announced Monday that it will consider the case of a Denver baker who refused to make a cake for the wedding of a gay couple in 2012 because of his religious beliefs.

Lower courts upheld that the baker violated the state’s equalities law.