Thursday, May 22, 2008

Opinion Polls on SSM

Public support for SSM is fickle, but the overall trend is positive.

While I am of the opinion that the majority view is irrelevant to the question, and indeed the majority is often wrong, the pattern in the marriage equality battle is nearly identical to previous civil rights battles.

First, the majority must be dragged along, kicking and screaming if need be, and then after it becomes obvious that the sky is still there and sun still rises every day, acceptance follows.

The latest opinion polls are here.

Bottom line though, is good news indeed.

If we rely on that first poll alone, in 1985 82% of the public opposed same sex marriage, while only 11% supported it. By the early 1990s, when the data become richer, opposition was at about 65% while support stood at about 28%. Congress passed, and President Clinton signed, the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" in September 1996, but public opinion trends seem not to have noticed at all, neither rising nor falling around that time. By the week of the California ruling, May 15, 2008, opposition had declined to about 55% while support had grown to 40%. The net effect of some 16 years of public debate was a 10 point decline in opposition and a 12 point rise in support.
Consider the public opinion polls regarding interracial marriage and you will see the same pattern:

In 1948, about 90% of American Adults opposed interracial marriage when the Supreme Court of California legalized it, and California became the first state that allowed loving, committed interracial couples to marry.

In 1967, about 72% were opposed to interracial marriage. This was the year when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized interracial marriage everywhere in the U.S.

In 1991, those adults opposed to interracial marriage became a minority for the first time.

The change averaged slightly less than 1 percentage point per year.

The acceptance of SSM is trending way ahead of the acceptance level for interracial marriage.


Will there be a backlash as we saw after the Massachusetts decision?

Personally, I think not; but we have work to do.


1 comment:

Fannie said...

Thanks for the info, John!