Civil Liberties

Even Folks Who Dislike Gay Marriage Realize It's Inevitable

Attitudes toward gays and lesbians in America have shifted considerably in just a decade


According to the Pew Research Center's latest poll, 72 percent of Americans say legal recognition of gay marriage is coming. It doesn't necessarily mean they support it. Almost 60 percent of those who oppose recognition of same-sex marriages think it's inevitable anyway. (Libertarians may well commiserate regardless of their positions on marriage recognition, given the apparent inevitability of many policies they oppose.)

Pew Research Center

Pew's research goes much further, though, showing significant cultural shifts in attitudes toward gay people. Over the course of a decade, the majority has shifted to accept gay people should be part of society, to have more favorable opinions of the gays (women a few points higher than men), and to say they're much less likely to be upset if their children told them they were gay.

The number of Americans who say they personally know somebody gay has jumped from 61 percent to 87 percent in 20 years (that may explain a Gallup poll from last year where people estimated nearly 25 percent of the population was gay or lesbian).

Their latest poll numbers for gay marriage recognition have 51 percent supporting it and 67 percent supporting legal agreements that offer the same "rights" as marriage (scare quotes because I can hear some of you grinding your teeth — they really mean "privileges").

It's all over but the voting, pretty much. The Supreme Court's decisions on California's Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act are expected sometime during June. They may well end up punting on Prop. 8 (which could lead to more confusion, as Damon Root wrote in March). The Defense of Marriage Act decision is likely to be narrowly tailored so as not to decide whether gays can claim a national right to have their marriages recognized by law.

But state resistance is falling like dominoes. Today gay Minnesota couples started getting their marriage licenses. We may not even need a Loving v. Virginia decision to make it happen. Maybe we can just do it ourselves.

Read the full report here.

Emily Ekins noted yesterday our recent Reason-Rupe poll showing a majority of Americans don't really care if professional athletes are gay.