A recent Gallup poll gives telling insight into the growing societal acceptance of same-sex marriages; 55 percent of Americans now support laws making gay and lesbian marriages legal. The percentage is much higher for younger people (between the ages of 18 and 29), with eight out of every 10 people in that demographic supporting marriage equality regardless of sexual orientation.
This poll comes on the heels of the landmark advocacy milestones in both Pennsylvania and Oregon, where judges have now struck down laws prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages. Currently, same-sex marriages are now legal in 17 states (and in the District of Columbia), while several other states are in proverbial "limbo" while the judicial process handles challenges to marriage equality laws.
According to Gallup data, support for same-sex marriage has grown exponentially in recent years. Back in 1996, for example, 68 percent of Americans were opposed to laws that would make it legal for gay and lesbian couples to marry. Not surprisingly, support for marriage equality is dramatically different between different generations. Younger people are more than twice as likely to be in favor of same-sex marriage than people over the age of 65.
In addition to generational differences, there are also other distinct "battle" lines evidenced by Gallup's survey. For example, Democrats are more than twice as likely to support gay marriage as Republicans are, with 74 percent and 30 percent, respectively. The region in which those polled lived also had an impact on their marriage equality stance. The South has markedly less support than more "progressive" Northeastern states, as the Southern states all have legal and/or constitutional bans in place to prohibit same-sex marriage.
Once court cases currently pending in Oklahoma, Virginia and Utah are decided, Gallup pollsters predict that support for same-sex marriage will increase across the nation.
Source: Gallup.com, "Same-Sex Marriage Support Reaches New High at 55%: Nearly eight in 10 young adults favor gay marriage," Justin McCarthy, May 21, 2014.