While Southern Baptist Convention ethics czar Richard Land and others were laboring to organize a Defense of Marriage Act counterattack by the culture warriors, public opinion deserted them. Capping “a long-term shift in attitudes,” same-sex marriage enjoys 53 percent support in this country, the ABC News/Washington Post Poll found. Whereas only “Forty-four percent are opposed.”
The shift in public attitudes which led to this is rapid, unrelenting and across the board:
While younger adults and liberals remain at the forefront of support for gay marriage, the new results underscore its expansion. In an ABC/Post poll five and a half years ago, for example, under-30s were the sole age group to give majority support to gay marriage, at 57 percent. Today it’s 68 percent in that group – but also 65 percent among people in their 30s, up a remarkable 23 points from the 2005 level; and 52 percent among those in their 40s, up 17 points.
Adults 50 and older remain more skeptical, but even that’s seen change. Most notably, 33 percent of seniors now say gay marriage should be legal, up from 18 percent five years ago.
Trends among other groups are equally striking. Compared with five years ago support for gay marriage has grown by 10 points among women, but by 18 points among men; it’s now at parity. Support has grown by 17 points among Democrats, but also by 13 points among independents, to a clear majority, 58 percent, in the crucial political center. And it’s 63 percent among moderates, up 21 points.
As for religious groups for which opposition to same-sex marriage is doctrinaire — wherein one finds Land’s core support group and the choir to which he preaches — the shift in attitudes is equally unrelenting:
Support is up by a striking 23 points among white Catholics, often a swing group and one that’s been ready, in many cases, to disregard church positions on political or social issues. But they have company: Fifty-seven percent of non-evangelical white Protestants now also support gay marriage, up 16 points from its level five years ago. Evangelicals, as noted, remain very broadly opposed. But even in their ranks, support for gay marriage is up by a double-digit margin.
It is inopportune, Richard, to negotiate a truce in the culture war over same-sex marriage. Not however, as you and your allies argue, because a majority of Americans support fallback to the intolerance of a bygone era. They don’t and the trends suggest that you will see the time when a majority of your target audience doesn’t either.