By Robert Schlesinger, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
Yesterday's (correct but frustrating) California Supreme Court decision upholding the anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 was such a blow in part because so much progress has been made on marriage equality in recent weeks elsewhere in the country (Maine, Iowa, even New Hampshire, though that progress has stalled). But supporters of gay marriage should not confuse progress with success, a fact reinforced by a new Gallup poll released this morning.
According to the poll, a strong majority of Americans (57 percent) continue to oppose gay marriage (with 40 percent favoring it). The good news is that in digging deeper one can find some reasons for optimism.
First the bad news: Gallup notes that support for gay marriage has come a long way since it first asked the question in 1996 (when Americans opposed it by 68 percent to 27 percent), but the progress has essentially stalled in the last five years, with support in the low 40s and opposition in the upper 50s.
Here's the good news. First, the demographics favor marriage equality, with 18-to-29-year-olds strongly favoring gay marriage (59 percent to 37 percent). All other age groups oppose same-sex marriage, with opposition increasing the older one gets. While it's not surprising that liberals strongly favor it and conservatives strongly oppose, it, moderates favor gay marriage by a slim 50-46 percent margin.
And if you remove the m-word from the equation, we're making other progress as a society: Two thirds of Americans say gay and lesbian domestic partners should get health insurance and other employee benefits. Nearly three quarters say that they should have inheritance rights. And a majority (54 percent) favors gays being allowed to adopt. (I have some personal experience in this matter: My gay sister has an adopted daughter; believe me, it works out fine.)
One final stat that you can take either as progress or reason to weep: 56 percent of Americans believe that gay relations between consenting adults should be "legal." An astounding 40 percent of Americans think that they should not be legal. If this seems painfully regressive, understand that at least once this decade and a couple of times in the last decade, pluralities of Americans favored the not legal answer.
So yeah, we're making progress. But we've got a long way to go.
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