- February 13, 2015
Today, HRC released the results from a new national poll commissioned to gauge voter attitudes ahead of a Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality. The survey showed support for marriage equality continues to expand and that there is virtually no public support for the opponents of marriage equality who have encouraged the public to resist a Supreme Court ruling -- even among voters who oppose marriage equality.
“This poll is another conclusive sign that support for marriage equality and LGBT people overall continues to grow. The reality is that eight out of ten Americans now know someone who is LGBT and nearly half of our country knows an LGBT person who is married or in a committed relationship,” said Fred Sainz, Vice President for Communications at the Human Rights Campaign. “The violent rhetoric of some of the so-called leaders in the dwindling anti-marriage minority leave them isolated and out touch, even with voters who otherwise support traditional definitions of marriage.”
The poll was commissioned to gauge attitudes on marriage equality after the Supreme Court of the United States granted cert last month to marriage cases from four states: the consolidated case of Obergefell v. Hodges brought by Lambda Legal, ACLU and private attorneys from Ohio; DeBoer v. Snyder from Michigan, which was brought by GLAD and private attorneys; Tanco v. Haslam, brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and private attorneys from Tennessee; and the consolidated case of Bourke v. Beshear brought by private attorneys from Kentucky and joined by ACLU. With oral arguments set to take place this spring, a ruling is anticipated by the beginning of July.
The new polling data comes as the Human Rights Campaign launched The “People’s Brief,” a groundbreaking campaign that allows any American who has read the brief and agrees with its contents to sign on and to show their support for marriage equality directly to the Supreme Court. The People’s Brief marks the first time that many fair-minded Americans will have the opportunity to have their voices formally heard in a civil rights case of this magnitude.
LGBT Americans as well as their friends, family members, coworkers and other allies can review the contents of the brief and affix their name to a document that will be entered into the record, distributed to the Supreme Court justices, and considered by the highest court in the land. The brief will be formally submitted to the Supreme Court in advance of the March 6 deadline for such submissions.
Highlights from the poll, which was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner for the Human Rights Campaign:
· 60 percent of likely voters support marriage equality, a new high point.
· Nearly half of Americans know an LGBT couple that has gotten married.
· A clear majority of voters favor marriage equality, regardless of where they live.
· Even traditional opponents of marriage equality are becoming more supportive.
· Voters overwhelmingly reject the extreme rhetoric used by Tony Perkins and his allies.
Regardless of Geography, a Majority Favor Marriage Equality
Overall, the survey of likely 2016 voters showed support for marriage equality hits a 60 percent majority. This number reflects further growth in support, and is up from 55 percent support that HRC recorded in a poll taken nearly a year ago and 56 percent support in an ABC News/Washington Post Poll from October 2014.
These findings chronicle a sea change in cultural attitudes. In 1988, the earliest public recording of voter sentiment on marriage equality, only 12 percent of the country believed “homosexual couples had the right to marry one another.”
What’s more, a majority of voters support marriage across the country, regardless of the region they call home. Voters in the Northeast supported marriage equality 72 percent to 25 percent. In the Central states support was 57 percent to 38 percent. Southern state voters supported marriage equality 50 percent to 47 percent, while support in Western states was 70 percent to 28 percent.
Attitudes are Changing Even Among Traditional Marriage Opponents
Democrats and Independent voters overwhelmingly support marriage equality (Democrats 77 percent to 22 percent; Independents by 63 percent to 31 percent). More interesting, Republican voters also show significant change. Overall, only 35 percent of Republican voters support marriage equality, while 61 percent are opposed, a significant increase in support. In 2011, 70 percent of Republican opposed marriage equality, and just 19 percent supported. The anti-marriage margin among Republicans has been cut in half in four years (from 51 points to 26 points). Change is especially pronounced among younger voters -- among Republicans under age 50, support grows to 42 percent.
Similarly, we find massive change among seniors (from 30 percent favor, 60 percent oppose in 2011 to 48 percent favor, 50 percent oppose currently, a 28 point swing), non-college voters (from 34 – 56 percent oppose to 55 – 41 percent favor, a 36 point swing) and Catholics (now 66 percent favor, up from 50 percent in 2011).
Many Americans Already Know an LGBT Couple Who Has Gotten Married
Polling literature has long recorded the number of voters who “know someone gay,” and the rise in this number (78 percent in this survey) and increased exposure and familiarity with the LGBT community has played a direct role in voters’ growing support for marriage. With marriage equality now the law of the land in 37 states, this is one of the few surveys able to ask whether voters know any “gay or lesbian couples who have had marriage or commitment ceremonies.”
Nearly half (46 percent) of Americans already know an LGBT couple that’s gotten married or held a commitment ceremony. Those who do know an LGBT couple that have gotten married support marriage equality by an overwhelming 75 to 22 percent margin.
Nowhere to Turn for Opponents of Marriage Equality
There is simply no appetite anywhere in this country for the kind of violent, extreme message peddled by those who oppose marriage equality. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins (and his allies) has long predicted that marriage equality could lead to “a revolution.” Voters soundly rejected his arguments, and even among opponents of marriage equality, Perkins’ violent, extreme rhetoric alienates nearly half his base.
Voters were asked to react to the following statement from Perkins:
I think if the court steps in at this moment and says that we are redefining marriage and that same sex marriage will be the law in every land, I think you will create a firestorm of opposition. This will be the straw that broke the camel's back. When you look at a nation that is so divided along these moral and cultural issues, you could have a revolt or revolution. I think you could see Americans saying, "You know what? Enough of this." And I think it could explode and just break this nation apart.
Only 27 percent agreed with him, while 70 percent disagreed. In fact, voters of all parties disagreed. Only 40 percent of Republicans agreed, while 57 percent disagreed with Perkins. Even among those voters who oppose marriage equality — now just 37 percent of the electorate — more voters disagree with Perkins (49 percent) than agree (just 47 percent).
Learn more about HRC's latest marriage equality poll here.