May 23, 2012
By Jacob Combs
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll released today marks a new milestone for public opinion on marriage equality: by a significant margin, more Americans are now strongly in support of marriage equality than strongly opposed to it. Fifty-three percent of Americans support the freedom to marry, with 39 percent of respondents saying they strongly support it, and 32 percent saying they strongly oppose it. These numbers are a significant shift from March, when strong support and strong opposition were at equal levels. Strong opposition is now at its lowest point since 2004.
This increased support is likely due in part to increased exposure of LGBT individuals in society: the survey found that 71 percent of Americans personally know someone who is gay. In addition, knowing someone who is gay makes people 20 points more likely to support marriage than those who don’t.
Perhaps even more strikingly, the ABC/Post poll found that support for marriage equality has reached a new high amongst African-Americans at 59 percent, up an incredible 18 points from similar polls conducted this spring and last summer. Sixty-five percent of African-American respondents expressed support for Obama’s announcement on the issue.
Once again, party lines on the issue are evident: Republicans and conservatives oppose marriage equality by a 2-1 margin, while evangelical white Protestants oppose it by a 3-1 margin. White Democrats support it by a 2-1 margin, while a full 68 percent of independents support marriage rights, while 43 percent strongly supporting them. This last statistic is perhaps the most significant going forward: with such marked support among independents, it seems that marriage equality as a wedge issue is decidedly a thing of the past–at least in the court of public opinion.
Intriguingly, the ABC/Post poll asked respondents whether they favored a state-by-state or federal approach, and found that 49 percent favor the former while 46 percent support the latter. Support for federal marriage rules was higher amongst supporters of marriage equality, while support for a state-by-state solution was favored by opponents.
The poll’s full results can be found here. Perhaps the most exciting element of new polling information like this is the fact that is simply isn’t that newsworthy–all the survey opinions are pointing in the same direction. Still, the ABC/Post poll’s findings amongst African-Americans and independents is extremely positive. Clearly, an ever-growing (and fast growing) cross-section of Americans believes that equal marriage rights for all is simply the right thing to do.