Majority of Americans Support Same-Sex Marriage

BY BTL STAFF

After plateauing in 2015, support for same-sex marriage has accelerated through 2016 and into early 2017.

"Although support for same-sex marriage steadily rose through the 2000s and early 2010s, support levels remained relatively flat across 2015," said Daniel Cox, PRRI research director. "But we are now seeing a renewed upward trend even among groups who have traditionally been more opposed."

Today, more than six in ten (63 percent) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. As recently as 2013, only slightly more than half (52 percent) the public backed same-sex marriage nationally.

These are among the key findings from a new national survey--focusing on LGBT issues conducted by PRRI, a nonpartisan research organization, among 2,031 adults from Feb. 10-19.

Support for same-sex marriage is fairly consistent across regions with one notable exception: Americans living in the South are substantially less supportive than Americans living in other parts of the country. Roughly seven in ten Americans living in the Northeast (69 percent), West (68 percent) and Midwest (67 percent) favor same-sex marriage compared to 54 percent of Southerners.

Strong partisan divides remain over the legalization of same-sex marriage, but there is evidence that these may abate over time. Three-quarters of Democrats (76 percent) and roughly two-thirds of independents (66 percent) support same-sex marriage, compared to only 45 percent of Republicans. However, nearly six in ten (57 percent) Republicans under the age of 50 support same-sex marriage compared to only about one-third (36 percent) of those age 50 or older.

New PRRI analysis, drawn from a data set of 40,509 interviews conducted throughout 2016 as part of PRRI's American Values Atlas, reveals that most American religious groups support same-sex marriage and oppose religiously-based service refusals.

Same-sex marriage now garners majority support among most religious groups. Roughly two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (66 percent) and Catholics (68 percent), and more than eight in ten (84 percent) religiously unaffiliated Americans and members of non-Christian religious traditions (86 percent) favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. In stark contrast, only about one-third (34 percent) of white evangelical Protestants and roughly half (47 percent) of black Protestants support same-sex marriage.

PRRI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan organization specializing in research at the intersection of religion, values, and public life. The poll can be accessed online.

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