A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll released yesterday not only shows that a majority of citizens support marriage equality, but also suggests that much of the increasing trend towards support is coming from older Americans. The New York Times calls it “the fourth credible poll in the past eight months to show an outright majority of Americans in favor of” marriage.
Overall, 51% of the 824 Americans surveyed nationwide stated that marriages between gay and lesbian couples should be recognized by the law as valid in the same way as heterosexual marriages. 47% of the sample felt they should not be seen as valid. These numbers vary considerably from just a year ago, when only 44% of Americans supported full marriage rights and 54% opposed it. The current results still suggest a slight disparity in class status and gender—with 57% of women in support of marriage compared to 45% of men, and 42% of those who never attended college in favor of marriage compared to 59% of those who did attend college. Along party lines, a majority of Democrats and Independents are in support of marriage, while Republicans oppose it. On average, 60% of respondents under 50 years old support marriage, and 39% oppose it, compared to 42% of those 50 and older who support marriage and 56% who oppose it.
However, the results are more significant than they initially appear because they surprisingly did not seem to include responses from any 18- to 34-year-olds. This group has shown consistently high levels of support in its attitudes towards LGBT issues in the past, especially in the area of marriage equality. A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll, for example, suggests that 68% of adults under 30 support marriage equality and 65% of adults in their thirties support it. So, the real percentage of adults who support marriage is therefore likely to be even higher than the CNN estimation.
Still, this is the first of CNN’s own polls to show majority support for marriage, and the results come at a pivotal time, as House Speaker John Boehner announced earlier this week that he will hire former Solicitor General Paul Clement to defend the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in court.
GLAAD will continue to monitor trends in polling data and to amplify different voices and perspectives from the LGBT community regarding marriage equality.