So, it looks like most of the folks who participated in this recent poll would disagree with my last post about the state of the "culture war." No surprise there, but there's a nugget of good news on marriage equality here that shouldn't be missed.
On the subject of gay unions, 56 percent opposed giving gays the right to marry, but 53 percent favored allowing gays to enter into legal agreements that provide many of the same rights as married couples.
There has been an increase in recent years in the proportion of Americans who believe homosexuality is innate — 36 percent, up from 30 percent in 2003. Similarly, 49 percent believed homosexuals cannot be changed to heterosexual, compared to 42 percent in 2003.
It's not surprising that a majority is still opposed to same-sex marriage per-se. We already know that. But what's encouraging is that a slightly smaller majority favors some form of legal recognition for same-sex relationships that affords some (many? most?) of the same rights as married couples.
I posted earlier this week about young people's response to Lance Bass coming out, and earlier about the trend among younger Americans to support marriage equality or legal recognition for same-sex relationships.
Even two years ago, 15- to 25-year-olds favored gay marriage by 56 percent to 39 percent, according to a national survey by the University of Maryland’s youth think tank, the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE at civicyouth.org).
…Other polling — in which the eldest Millennials were surveyed along with half of Xers to tell us about 18- to 29-year-old voters — likewise foretells a tipping point. Within perhaps 10 years, gay marriage will enjoy majority support nationwide because younger, more accepting voters will have replaced many of today’s 65-plus voters. Notable findings include:
Eighteen- to 29-year-olds are the first age group of voters to prefer gay marriage over other options for gay couples, 2004 election exit polls show. Asked their preference, 41 percent chose marriage for gay couples, 28 percent favored civil unions and only 30 percent said no recognition.
This most recent poll surveyed 2,003 "American adults" so I imagine that it included at least some participants in the 18 to 29 category. Without looking at the raw data I can only guess that the influence of younger participants pushed the number closer to favoring some form of equality in this poll.
It's possible that, as younger Americans who support marriage equality take more of a role in public and political life that we'll see further shifts in those numbers in the next 10 to 20 years. Maybe even a shift towards majority support of marriage equality, and between now and then maybe majority support for civil unions. It could include continued opposition to something like the FMA, as well as support for repealing the state laws that it's inspired, and a state-by-state movement to establish civil unions. (Which could then be "grandfathered in" to legal marriage down the line?)
Either way, it looks like there's movement out there, and the momentum is towards equality.