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Washington Post poll finds record high support for marriage equality

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WaPo/ABC News pollOn the heels of another positive poll on marriage equality released by the New York Times and CBS News last week, the Washington Post and ABC News are out with their own poll finding record support for equal marriage rights across the nation:

Half of all Americans believe that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll in which a large majority also said businesses should not be able to deny serving gays for religious reasons.

Fifty percent say the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection gives gays the right to marry, while 41 percent say it does not.

Beyond the constitutional questions, a record-high 59 percent say they support same-sex marriage, while 34 percent are opposed, the widest margin tracked in Post-ABC polling.

In addition, the Post poll found that almost seven in ten respondents disagree with recently proposed laws that would allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians because of their religious convictions.  Majorities from all partisan backgrounds disagreed with such a policy.

As the Post notes, support on the marriage equality issue has shifted at breakneck speed:

Support for same-sex marriage has changed more rapidly than almost any social issue in the past decade. In a Post-ABC poll in March 2004, 38 percent said same-sex marriage should be legal, while 59 percent said it should not, the same percentage now in favor of allowing gays to marry.

The shifting attitudes extend beyond issues of marital rights to more basic beliefs about the nature of homosexuality and its implications for child rearing. Nearly eight in 10 say that gays can parent as well as straight people, up from just below six in 10 in a 1996 Newsweek survey.

Sixty-one percent support allowing gays to adopt a child, up from 49 percent in 2006 and 29 percent in a 1992 poll by Time magazine and CNN. More than twice as many people consider being gay as “just the way they are,” rather than something they chose.


  • 1. Rick O.  |  March 5, 2014 at 8:32 am

    Wish this had historical numbers as well as the graph. Looks the the shift in the past 12 months has been very large, with the drop in "oppose" particularly notable. This poll also found 53% to 40% support for ME counting only the 33 states currently without SSM. Even more encouraging, the public seems to know Jim Crow when they see it: 69% oppose any laws like AZ 1062, even if it's for religious reasons (81% NO if religion not mentioned).

  • 2. Michael Grabow  |  March 5, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Not to be a negative nancy, but that blows me away that 19% of the respondents think it's ok to discriminate against gay people…just because.

    Also, I've seen that graph a few times and have been curious about the cause of that temporary flip of opinion from 2011-2012.

  • 3. StraightDave  |  March 5, 2014 at 9:17 am

    There's been flips at a couple other points, too. This one only stands out more because the numbers were close to 50/50. Otherwise, our eyes don't tend to notice as readily. I think it's nothing more that the usual statistical fluctuation and the ever-present "margin of error".

  • 4. Rick O.  |  March 5, 2014 at 9:19 am

    The 19% "just because" crowd reflects some people enjoy being angry, obnoxious, and bullies 100% of the time, and also obsessed with everybody else's sex lives. Rush Limbaugh founded a gazillion dollar industry on this, the Republican's founded a 30 year winning political coalition on it, and hell fire and brimstone still packs the pews and fills the collection plates. The only reason I can think of is these types don't get enough. Curious Regnerus is studying (?) gay porn…

  • 5. Kevin  |  March 5, 2014 at 9:06 am

    The Pope! Makes me wish I were catholic.

  • 6. StraightDave  |  March 5, 2014 at 9:32 am

    Yes, all credit is due. It is a very gracious and unconventional move to acknowledge the existence, and to some extent the legitimacy, of LGBT people. But he still misses the mark. There is a solution to the needs he identifies. It's called Civil Marriage. Somehow, he can't quite bring himself to even acknowledge the existence of civil marriage, as being holy distinct from Wholly Matrimony. It seems to me like there is some mental block in all the Catholic hierarchy that "church weddings" are the only thing that is even possible to contemplate, like they own the franchise. But it's not the first time the church was 500 years behind the rest of society.

  • 7. Eric  |  March 5, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    The Pope can say what he likes, his beliefs are still "intrinsically disordered."

  • 8. Kevin  |  March 5, 2014 at 9:19 am

    This is what's called 'the tipping point.'

  • 9. Straight Ally #3008  |  March 5, 2014 at 9:22 am

    The first wins at the ballot box in Maryland, Maine, and Washington were a huge part of the tipping point – as far as I can tell, it's the first time the majority directly voted in favor of the rights of a minority. This year is on track to be a clean sweep of victories at federal district courts (jury is still out, so to speak, on some of the circuit courts), which is also hugely important.

  • 10. Retired lawyer  |  March 5, 2014 at 9:50 am

    It was gratifying to see that the Washington Post ran this news on page A4, at the top of the page. The Post's slogan, "if you don't get it, you don't get it," seems boastful, but, in fact, nearly everyone in DC does read the Post, including, I would wager, the Justices of the US Supreme Court. If, as conventional wisdom holds, the Justices will not find a Constitutional right to same-sex marriage until the country is ready for such a decision, then the time has arrived.

  • 11. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 5, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Jonathon Capehart has a column in today's WaPo titled "Supreme fear of gay marriage should fade" (although his statement in the opening paragraph that SCOTUS "invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)" is only partially correct – SCOTUS invalidated Section 3, but not Section 2, of DOMA).
    (… )

  • 12. John  |  March 6, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Section 2 has no legal impact so for all intents and purposes SCOTUS did invalidate DOMA.

  • 13. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 6, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Tell that to the people who got legally married in any state that allows ME, then moved to a state that does not recognize same sex marriage, but recognizes the marriage of heterosexual couples married at the same time in the same state the same sex couple got married.

    Almost all court cases (whether in state or Federal courts) now involve such couples who are suing to have the state recognize their marriage from another state.

    Now, tell us again that "Section 2 has no legal impact".

  • 14. Ann_S  |  March 6, 2014 at 10:59 am

    That problem will not go away if Section 2 is repealed or overturned. It is due to a principle called "comity", which has been discussed in the comments here a number of times.

  • 15. ebohlman  |  March 6, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    None of the arguments/decisions in any of the out-of-state recognition (OOSR) cases have even remotely involved DOMA 2 or FF&C. They've all hinged on 14th Amendment Due Process and Equal Protection considerations.

  • 16. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 6, 2014 at 10:53 pm

    They are based on the 14th, but so were the Windsor and the Prop H8 cases. The decisions in all the out of state marriage cases, though, have involved, whether explicitly stated or not, DOMA Section 2.

    Exhibit A – Ohio
    Exhibit B – Kentucky
    Exhibit C – Virginia

  • 17. Schteve  |  March 9, 2014 at 5:09 am

    No they haven't. DOMA is not why Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia don't recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

    Actually, one case to include an explicit challenge to Section 2 is the one in Oklahoma (and along with the Section 3 challenge is why the titular defendant in the case is the United States). But the judge ruled the plaintiffs lack standing to sue the United States over Section 2 because Section 2 is not why Oklahoma officials don't recognize their out-of-state marriage. The judge explicitly said that Section 2's maximal effect is to remove the Full Faith and Credit Clause as a possible argument the plaintiffs could use, and he further points out that some legal minds consider Section 2 to be completely redundant given the existing public policy exception to the Full Faith and Credit Clause.

    John's point was just that. He is saying the public policy exception likely extends to marriages, making Section 2 of DOMA simply a repetition of existing law. This hasn't been definitively resolved (eg by the Supreme Court), but it is a valid point since marriages are not court orders.

  • 18. sfbob  |  March 9, 2014 at 9:50 am

    If I understand it correctly, the only reason Section 2 exists is to give a state cover for invoking the "public policy exception." It would seem to be appropriate to attack that one remaining part of DOMA (apart from Section 1, which is just the title section) though for all intents and purposes it would seem not to matter. The public policy exception requires a public policy to back up its invocation, which cannot consist of simply "because that's our policy," which would boil down to some variation of "just because…" For a state to invoke the public policy exception a state would have to have some substantive reason that it can argue in court. The reasons a state could possibly have for refusing to recognize an out-of-state marriage are on the far fringes of what's conceivable since even most states that don't allow first-cousin marriages will recognize such marriages performed out of state; likewise for marriages involving one party that the state would consider to be underage. So what's left to provide support for a state to invoke the public policy exception against a same-sex marriage has already been found to be constitutionally impermissible under Windsor and under the rulings already handed down at the district court level which apply to state marriage equality bans.

  • 19. Eric  |  March 5, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    The won't find a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, they will reiterate that the right to marry is fundamental, as they have already done fourteen times over the past 150-years.

  • 20. sfbob  |  March 6, 2014 at 8:31 am

    That's correct. Loving vs Virginia did not create a "new" right to interracial marriage, it removed a limitation on the fundamental right to marry the person of one's choice. Lawrence vs Texas did not create a "right to same-sex sodomy" it removed a limitation to an existing fundamental right to intimate association.

  • 21. roggert  |  March 6, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Matrimony equality is really a old-fashioned difficulty. Granted the fundamental components of old-fashioned thought–self-sufficiency, inspiration, ambition, personalized responsibility, minimal governmental interference, marriage need to be encouraged–for all people. Denying marriage legal rights can be damaging to culture, dangerous in order to the idea of old-fashioned believed, and also wasteful regarding open funds and also other assets. Know more info follow link.

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    Holy word salad spam, Batman.

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