Ten years ago when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, only 32% of the country showed a favoring opinion towards marriage equality. Now in 2014, support for marriage equality is at an all time high of 59 percent according to a new poll released early March by ABC News/ Washington Post.
The poll focused on several issues but the two most impressive results came from questions dealing with the constitutional implications of marriage equality and whether or not religious liberties are a reason to discriminate against gay and lesbian Americans.
When asked if the U.S Constitution, under the 14th amendment and the clause requiring equal protection under the law does or does not grant gays and lesbians the legal right to marry, 50 percent of those polled agreed that it does while only 41 percents claimed that it did not.
The majority support of Constitutional protections are clearly in line with the growing number of states who have in the recent months removed or are soon to remove their Constitutional marriage bans either through the legislative or judicial channels. Seventeen states and Washington D.C have legalized marriage equality while over a dozen of states have legal marriage ban challenges in place.
The striking shift of public opinion has been on the rise in America over the past decade as the country has seen incredible legal advancements towards equality from both state legislatures and federal courts. Despite the rise in support towards LGBTQ equality, challenges towards legal discrimination against gay and lesbian still continue in over a dozen state houses across the nation.
As Republican elected officials continue to champion the various “religious freedom” bills that have surfaced over the past year, the new poll shares the public’s views on the allowance of refusing service to someone because of their own personal or religious beliefs.
81 percent agreed that in general a business should not be allowed to refuse service to gay or lesbian customers. 65 percent said they also believed service still should not be refused to gays and lesbians even if homosexuality violates the business owners’ religious beliefs.
The breakdown of the demographics is less surprising than that of the actual data accumulated by the survey. 75 percent of those under the age of 30 declared that there were in support of the legalization of same-sex marriage while only 47 percent of seniors were in favor of marriage equality. These numbers have been consistent with other polls surveying similar questions and confirm the belief that younger populations will be a driving force in the achievement of full federal marriage equality nationwide in the near future.
The survey also shows the great divide between political parties where 70 percent of Democrats are in support of gay rights where only 40 percent of Republicans are in favor of equality.
1002 adults were surveyed for the poll from February 27 to March 2.