Behind Gay Marriage Momentum, Regional Gaps Persist

Nov 12, 2012

Supporters of same-sex marriage won key victories in several states Tuesday, including the first instances in which laws allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally were approved by voters.

This comes at a time when support for same-sex marriage has been on the rise. Across four Pew Research Center surveys this year, 48% of Americans say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 43% are opposed. Just four years ago, in the 2008 election cycle, 51% opposed making same-sex marriages legal and 39% supported it.

The steep recent trend has continued over the course of 2012. The most recent survey, conducted just two weeks before the election, found nearly half (49%) in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while opposition had fallen to an all-time low of 40%. (See survey topline). The tipping balance of American public opinion was confirmed in this week’s national election exit polling: 49% of voters said their state should legally recognize same-sex marriage; 46% said it should not.

Read the full report, Behind Gay Marriage Momentum, Regional Gaps Persist, on the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press website.

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