When same-sex marriages become legal in New York, 30 days after Friday's ruling by the state's legislature, the majority of Americans will likely be applauding or at least not complaining.
New York's decision to make same-sex marriages comes a little over a month after Gallup reported a historic turnaround on the issue. Specifically, Gallup reported that "For the first time in Gallup's tracking of the issue, a majority of Americans (53%) believe same-sex marriage should be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages."
The shift was based on a nine-percentage-point increase in support for same-sex marriage, driven by political independents and Democrats. (You can also get a quick summary on other groups' opinions in our Gallup News Minute on the topic.)
Trends are everything to us at Gallup and big movements like this don't come very often, especially on social issues where views can be very entrenched. However, views about same-sex relations have been moving over the past few years. This May, we also found even bigger majorities of Americans saying gay or lesbian relations should be legal and that gay and lesbian relations are morally acceptable. Our data painted a very different picture just three years ago. CNN contributor David Frum is one of the many Americans who appears to have changed his mind in that time.
As advocates and opponents of gay marriage reassess their position in light of New York's ruling, they must do so with the understanding that Americans' views on this issue are, in fact, changing and evolving. At least for now, that movement is in favor of supporters. Gallup tracks these and other trends annually to provide up-to-date findings that can be put into context. We'll update these trends again next May to see if and how things change further.
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In the meantime, you may also be interested in these stories:
- U.S. Adults Estimate That 25% of Americans Are Gay or Lesbian
- Knowing Someone Gay/Lesbian Affects Views of Gay Issues