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U.S. Support for Gay Marriage Stable, at 63%

U.S. Support for Gay Marriage Stable, at 63%

Story Highlights

  • Latest figure in line with the 64% to 67% Gallup has found since 2017
  • Young adults, Democrats most supportive of same-sex marriage
  • 63% also say gay or lesbian relations are morally acceptable

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A majority of Americans (63%) continue to say same-sex marriage should be legal, on par with the 64% to 67% Gallup has recorded since 2017.

Line graph. A majority of Americans continue to support same-sex marriage, with 63% saying it should be legal.

These data are from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 1-12. The latest figure marks the continuation of a trend that finds support for same-sex marriage remains more than twice as high as it was when Gallup first polled on the question in 1996. At that time, just over a quarter of Americans said it should be legal.

Gallup polls over the past decade have mostly shown small, incremental increases in support for gay marriage each year. Majorities of Americans have continuously supported same-sex couples' right to marry since late 2012, not long after President Barack Obama came out in support of it -- making him the first president to do so.

In the few years leading up to Obama's announcement, the issue was more contentious, with the percentages in favor and opposed within single digits of each other. Gay marriage was legalized in dozens of states in the 2000s and early 2010s before the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, which made same-sex marriage legal nationwide.

Gay Marriage Support Has Increased by Double Digits Among All Groups Since 1999

Gallup has seen 22- to 37-percentage-point increases in support for same-sex marriage across all major demographic groups since 1999.

Twenty years ago, a majority of just one group -- 18- to 29-year-olds (52%) -- supported legalizing gay marriage. By 2009, majorities of both young adults (59%) and Democrats (55%) supported legal same-sex marriage.

Today, majorities of most groups support gay marriage -- with the exception of adults aged 65 and older (47%) and Republicans (44%).

Women (66%) remain slightly more approving than men of legal gay marriage (61%). And regionally, the South remains the least supportive of same-sex marriages, though a small majority (57%) now supports it (it garnered majority support for the first time in this region in 2017).

Support for Legal Gay Marriage, by Group: 1999 vs. 2009 vs. 2019
1999 2009 2019 Change, 1999-2019
% Should be valid % Should be valid % Should be valid (pct. pts.)
National adults 35 40 63 +28
Party ID
Republicans 22 20 44 +22
Independents 38 45 68 +30
Democrats 42 55 79 +37
18-29 52 59 83 +31
30-49 39 40 68 +29
50-64 31 37 55 +24
65+ 11 25 47 +36
Men 31 37 61 +30
Women 39 43 66 +27
East 43 47 66 +23
Midwest 34 41 68 +34
South 27 31 57 +30
West 39 46 67 +28

63% Say Gay or Lesbian Relations Are Morally Acceptable

The same percentage of Americans consider gay relations to be morally acceptable (63%) as favor gay marriage. This is in line with the 60% to 67% viewing gay relations as morally acceptable in Gallup's trend since 2015.

Line graph. Most Americans, 63%, say gay and lesbian relations are morally acceptable, compared with 35% who disagree.

Similar to the demographics of approval on gay marriage, adults younger than 30 (84%) and Democrats (77%) are most likely to say gay and lesbian relations are morally acceptable, while adults aged 65 and older (51%) and Republicans (49%) are the least likely to say the same.

Bottom Line

Americans have "evolved," to use Obama's term about his personal stance on the issue, in their views on marriage. Sixty years ago, in 1959, a mere 4% of Americans approved of marriages between blacks and whites -- and even after the Supreme Court's Loving v. Virginia case legalized interracial marriage in 1967, majorities of Americans didn't approve of such unions until decades later, in the late 1990s.

Support for same-sex marriage increased in a much shorter time frame, becoming law in all 50 states just 11 years after Massachusetts became the first to legalize it.

At least six in 10 Americans have supported gay marriage in almost every Gallup reading since the Supreme Court's 2015 decision -- and a similar proportion have said that gay or lesbian relations are morally acceptable. It's possible that, for at least the time being, support for same-sex marriage has reached a ceiling, but the strong support seen today among young adults is likely to propel the national figure higher in the future.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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