At a time when the Supreme Court prepares to take up same-sex marriage and the Republican Party determines the best approach to the issue going forward, an ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday showed a new high-water mark in support for the right of gay and lesbian couples to tie the knot.
The poll found 58 percent of Americans now believe marriage should be legal for same-sex couples, while just 36 percent said it should be illegal — a new high in ABC/WaPo's polling. It's the latest development of the swift and ongoing change in American attudes toward gay rights. Only a decade ago, an ABC/WaPo survey showed a majority of 55 percent opposed to gay marriage.
Monday's poll found huge majorities of Democrats (72 percent) and independents (62 percent) backing gay marriage. And while 59 percent of Republicans overall remain opposed, the poll showed a slight majority of GOP voters under the age of 50 — 52 percent — supporting same-sex nuptials. Support is staggering among young people in general, with 81 percent of 18-to-29 year olds favoring gay marriage.
The timing of the latest ABC/WaPo survey is notable. The Supreme Court next week will consider a challenge to state laws such as Proposition 8, the 2008 California ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage. Almost two-thirds of respondents in the survey said the issue should be settled for all states based on the Constitution, instead of states creating their own laws. The poll's findings also coincide with a growing number of prominent politicians going public with their support of same-sex marriage. Hillary Clinton on Monday made her own support official. And last week, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) reversed his previous opposition to same-sex marriage after his son came out of the closet — something for which Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus praised the Ohio senator on Monday.
Although the findings in the ABC/WaPo survey are emblematic of an undeniable nationwide trend, few polls have shown such a high level of support for gay marriage. The PollTracker Average provides a visual of the change in public opinion on the issue.