An ABC News-Washington Post poll shows that 49 percent support gay marriage in the US and 53 percent of those polled think that gay marriages held in other states should be honored in their own.
Take gay marriage, legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut and now Iowa, with Vermont coming aboard in September. At its low, in 2004, just 32 percent of Americans favored gay marriage, with 62 percent opposed. Now 49 percent support it versus 46 percent opposed -- the first time in ABC/Post polls that supporters have outnumbered opponents.
More than half, moreover -- 53 percent -- say gay marriages held legally in another state should be recognized as legal in their states.
The surprise is that the shift has occurred across ideological groups. While conservatives are least apt to favor gay marriage, they've gone from 10 percent support in 2004 to 19 percent in 2006 and 30 percent now -- overall a 20-point, threefold increase, alongside a 13-point gain among liberals and 14 points among moderates. (Politically, support for gay marriage has risen sharply among Democrats and independents alike, while far more slightly among Republicans.)
Andrew Sullivan says this means that conservative politicians who must run in primaries strongly against gay marriage will run in elections where the broad electorate (including many who self-identify as conservatives) are in favor or are at least more tolerant on the issue.
The change is not limited to politics. CQPolitics notes that evangelicals are facing a similar divide:
Leaders of evangelical Christian organizations — the most vocal opponents of gay marriage as the issue polarized the electorate for much of this decade — now face a similar divide in their own ranks. In a survey last fall by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, Inc., 58 percent of white evangelicals ages 18 to 29 said they support either civil unions or gay marriage; support dropped to 46 percent among white evangelicals who were older than that. (Asked about gay marriage exclusively, the support figures were 26 percent for the younger group and 9 percent for the older group.)
“The data do show a growing divide between younger and older evangelicals. There clearly is a generational difference,” said Amy E. Black, a political scientist at Wheaton College, an evangelical liberal arts school in Illinois. She characterizes the thinking among many younger evangelicals as, “What big deal is civil unions, really? What I care about is the environment, or what I care about is human rights.”