Support for same-sex marriage has risen across the board in the last four years, new polling data shows, signalling a shift in the overall political and social views of Americans.
The new data, released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, shows a higher percentage of Democrats, Republicans, whites, minorities and people of all generations support same-sex marriage legalization.
Although the Pew data shows President Barack Obama's recent public announcement supporting gay marriage did not drive the uptick in numbers among most groups, he did stir the liberal base in support of legalization. Specifically, liberal Democrats now support gay marriage 83 percent, 10 points higher than before President Obama's announcement in April 2012.
Among voting groups, there has been an increase in support for same-sex marriage even among Republicans. Since 2008, Democrats have jumped in support from 50 to 65 percent; Republicans from 19 to 24 percent; and Independents from 44 to 51 percent.
African-Americans, historically opposed to gay marriage, are also seeing more of their numbers supporting legalization with a uptick to 40 percent from 26 in 2008. Church-goers are also more supportive, with 28 percent for legalization, compared with 23 in 2008.
But the Pew data shows the numbers are driven mostly by "generational replacement - the arrival of younger, more supportive generations making up a larger share of the population."
Millennials, those born after 1980, are the most supportive of gay marriage (63 percent). However, there has been an increase among Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation as well, the latter of which 1/3 support gay marriage currently.
The Pew data supports other recent polls showing acceptance of gay rights is becoming the new norm for Americans. A May Gallup poll showed a majority of Americans polled consider gay or lesbian relations morally acceptable.
The poll showed 63 percent of Americans believe gay relations writ large should be legal, with non-religious Americans, women, youth and Democrats more supportive of gay rights.
Government policy has also been shifting in favor of this new norm. This year not only saw the president's public announcement in support of gay marriage, but also the repeal of Don't' Ask, Don't Tell, leading to more open acceptance - and even praise - for gays, lesbians and bisexuals serving in the armed forces.
by RTT Staff Writer
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