Americans may not be able to agree on immigration reform, or education policy, or military spending — but on gays, they're speaking loud and clear: More and more are approving of same-sex marriage than ever before, the Public Religion Research Institute found.
Between 2003 and 2013, overall support for gay marriage has risen by 21 percentage points — from 32 percent in 2003 to 53 percent in 2013, PRRI found, in a survey released on Wednesday.
"Only the issue of marijuana looks anything like this in terms of rapid movement in favorability," said Robert Jones, CEO of the PRRI, in Religion News Service. "But with that one exception, it's unusual to see this much change in a relatively short amount of time."
It was after 2003 that the Episcopal Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church both welcomed gays to the clergy roles. It was also during this 2003-2013 time frame that gay marriage became legal in 17 states and in the District of Columbia — and that the Supreme Court issued its dramatic strike-downs of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that banned federal government officials from recognizing same-sex marriage, Religion News Service reported.
Part of the reason for the big switch is that a large number of poll participants said they had a relative or friend who was gay. In 1993, only 22 percent said they were close to someone who was gay — compared to 71 percent who now said they were.
"We looked at the power this has over views toward social policy issues," said Mr. Jones, in the news outlet, and discovered that the millennial age group and their growing awareness of close friends and family as gay "overlap to create a different worldview of 'normalcy.' "
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