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Tracking a cultural shift: Analysts examine rising support for legalizing same-sex marriage

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Posted June 27, 2013
“Over the years, our surveys have shown a pretty high percentage of millennials, 18- to 29-year-olds, are comfortable with same-sex relationships … Some of the hesitation that you hear sometimes from younger voters with wanting to embrace the Republican Party is this particular issue. It’s not abortion … this is one where there’s a clear break,” said Trey Grayson (left), director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Also offering insight on the shift in support of same-sex marriage were Harvard’s Professor Theda Skocpol, (center) and Carr Center program director Timothy McCarthy. Credit: (from left) by Katherine Taylor; Kristyn Ulanday; Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photograper

“Over the years, our surveys have shown a pretty high percentage of millennials, 18- to 29-year-olds, are comfortable with same-sex relationships … Some of the hesitation that you hear sometimes from younger voters with wanting to embrace the Republican Party is this particular issue. It’s not abortion … this is one where there’s a clear break,” said Trey Grayson (left), director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. Also offering insight on the shift in support of same-sex marriage were Harvard’s Professor Theda Skocpol, (center) and Carr Center program director Timothy McCarthy. Credit: (from left) by Katherine Taylor; Kristyn Ulanday; Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photograper

No matter how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on two historic same-sex marriage cases, it’s clear the court of public opinion is shifting on the issue.

Four years ago, polls suggested that about 40 percent of the American public favored gay marriage. Today, those figures are above 50 percent. According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted last month, 72 percent of Americans viewed legal recognition of same-sex marriage as “inevitable.” A recent New York Times/NBC survey found that 56 percent of Americans supported the equal treatment of same-sex couples already married.

The same survey said 60 percent favored letting the decision to legalize gay marriage rest with the states, not the federal government. Increasingly, states are accepting same-sex marriage. In the few months since the high court heard oral arguments in these cases, three more states have legalized it, bringing the total to 12 plus the District of Columbia. Marriage equality is also gaining ground internationally. Since March, Uruguay, New Zealand, and France have joined 11 other countries that support it.

The political shift

Many experts say the political landscape is changing to reflect the national trend. While few Republicans have openly supported gay marriage, there has been notable movement in the U.S. Senate. Three GOP senators have voiced their support in recent months, including Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, who reversed his position on the issue after his son came out to him.

Earlier this year, more than 100 prominent Republicans signed a legal brief backing gay marriage, in support of a lawsuit before the court that aims to strike down Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Read more at: Phys.org

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