The latest Pew survey on attitudes about same-sex marriage shows a more striking shift than indicated by the Pew Forum’s headline: “Support for Same-Sex Marriage Edges Upward.” Yes, support edged up four percentage points over last year, from 38 percent to 42 percent. And opposition edged down five points, from 53 percent to 48 percent. In other words, the gap between supporters and opponents was more than halved, shrinking from 15 points to six. Now, for the first time, less than a majority of Americans oppose SSM. That’s significant news.
Among regions of the country, only the South now opposes SSM, by a full 20 points. Among religious groups, only white evangelicals and black Protestants are significantly opposed. (Mormons doubtless are as well, but the survey does not register them.) Democrats are in favor and this year, in a 12-point turnaround, so are Independents (by a single point). Republicans remain a remote outlier, though even among them support has edged up from 19 percent to 24 percent.
All this has taken place during a period of apparent conservative resurgence. No wonder the GOP and its Tea Party allies are keeping mum on SSM.