Survey after survey has shown that views on basic social issues often move very slowly. But support for marriage equality is turning out to be one big exception to the rule. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, 58 percent of Americans now think it should be legal for same-sex couples to get married. That is an astounding increase from a low of 32 percent less than a decade ago. And in another shift that is seen as directly related to support for equal rights, only 24 percent see homosexuality as a choice, compared to 40 percent almost 20 years ago.
It has long been obvious that support for marriage equality was higher among the young. But the numbers now demonstrate how truly rare it is for a young person to oppose gay marriage. Eighty-one percent of adults younger than 30 support marriage equality, compared to 44 percent of seniors. In both cases, that’s 10 points higher than it was in March 2011, showing how much support for gay marriage has soared in such a short time. Even though Democrats still back marriage equality far more than Republicans—72 percent versus 34 percent—both groups have seen increases in support since 2004, with 18 points for Republicans and 29 points among Democrats.
The poll also appears to demonstrate how Americans are seeing the issue of gay marriage as one of basic rights and fairness, with 64 percent saying its legality should be decided for all states based on the U.S. Constitution.