Is There a Gay Marriage Groundswell?

This week the New York TImes reported that there is a “groundswell” of support for same-sex marriage equality, citing a series of recent polls that show that support for marriage equality has topped 50% in approximately twenty states. This is very significant, for two reasons.

First, the New York Times is “the” definitive paper in this county, and whenever they make this sort of announcement it has a way of becoming the accepted story — and that is a good thing. Even if they have pushed the interpretation of the polling data a bit, their overall conclusion is fundamentally correct. Support for marriage equality has finally tipped over 50% in many recent polls, and that is a dramatic difference since the early 1990s.

Second, even if the polling data is somewhat uncertain, there is a noticeable trend here that is not easily discounted. The results indicate that in most of the states where marriage has been legalized, popular support for gay marriage increases, rather than decreasing – thus undermining any notion that there is a long-term backlash when courts open the door to lesbians and gay men marrying. And, the figures confirm that there is a broad geographic divide on this issue, with the coastal states most in support of marriage equality, and the western, central and southern states falling behind — but still, in advance of where they were 15 years ago.

If these trends continue, we can look forward to a new decade of openness on this issue — which should definitely translate into positive legislative and legal outcomes.

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