New Polls Gauge Public’s Stance On Same-Sex Marriage — And The Impact Legalization Has Already Had

The nation’s position on same-sex marriage is still changing, with increasing support, according to recent polls. The Human Rights Campaign’s latest poll shows the highest level of support America has ever seen for marriage equality, and a Public Policy Polling report shows that, in at least one Southern state, people are ready to admit they haven’t been hurt by federal rulings in favor of marriage equality.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments later this year in same-sex marriage cases and make determinations on two points: whether states are obligated to allow same-sex couples to marry, and whether states are obligated to recognize same-sex marriages that occurred legally in other states. The Justice Department is urging the Supreme Court to rule in favor of marriage equality, and a nationwide debate is on concerning whether this is in line with what Americans want.

There are several notable cases in which legislators insist that it is not, such as the Oklahoma legislators who are attempting to make marriage available only to religious people, and Alabama’s Chief Justice, Roy Moore, who continues to fight against marriage equality in his state, defying Federal orders.

Frequently the rallying cry from these quarters is, “The people voted on same-sex marriage, and they don’t want it!”

However, marriage equality proponents argue that sentiments are changing and that people who were strongly opposed to same-sex marriage five or 10 years ago are now in favor. HRC’s poll appears to support this view.

The poll results demonstrate that 60 percent of respondents now support marriage equality, and fewer than 10 percent say they “strongly oppose” same-sex marriage. This demonstrates an increase even from last year’s poll, which showed 55 percent in favor of marriage equality. These results aren’t limited to any one region, either: even in southern states, where the support was the lowest, 50 percent of respondents said they were in favor of marriage equality.

HRC reports that the earliest polls in this matter, taken in 1988, showed that only 12 percent of Americans supported the right of same-sex couples to wed, showing that the percentages have more than quadrupled in fewer than 30 years.

With the regard to the change in attitudes, a Public Policy poll in South Carolina shows that the majority of residents in the state don’t feel they’ve been hurt by same-sex marriage.

Sixty percent of South Carolinians responding to the poll said they had not been affected at all by the legalization of same-sex marriage, and 9 percent said the effects on their lives had been positive. A mere 31 percent maintain that their lives have been negatively impacted by marriage equality.

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