Metro Weekly

Support for Gay Marriage is Dropping

Gallup finds support for same-sex marriage has declined, particularly among Republicans, in the face of a broader anti-LGBTQ backlash.

A marriage betweeen a same-sex couple. – Photo: Ashley Nicole, via Unsplash

Recent polling from Gallup indicates that Republican support for same-sex marriage has dropped significantly since 2022.

Two years ago, 55% of Republican-identified U.S. poll respondents supported allowing same-sex couples to marry, and 56% of Republicans said that gay and lesbian relations were morally acceptable.

But amid a slew of anti-LGBTQ attacks — primarily targeting transgender rights — support for any form of LGBTQ rights or LGBTQ visibility has dropped, reports Business Insider.

Only 46% of Republicans now support allowing same-sex couples to marry, and only 40% believe such relationships are morally acceptable.

According to Gallup’s Values and Beliefs poll, 69% of Americans support allowing same-sex nuptials, just slightly below the record high of 71% in 2022 and 2023. Support has declined slightly among Democrats and political independents, dropping from 87% to 84% among the first group and from 77% to 74% in the latter group.

The poll, conducted from May 1-23, 2024, finds that almost two-thirds of Americans believe same-sex relations are morally acceptable — a drop from 2022, when 71% responded in the affirmative.

Two years ago, 85% of Democrats and 72% of independents felt same-sex relations were morally acceptable. Those levels of agreement with same-sex marriage have also fallen, to 81% and 68%, respectively.

While support for same-sex marriage has trended upward in recent decades, going from 27% in 1996 to current-day levels, it seems that it has plateaued around the 70% mark, with little evidence of a potential upward trajectory. Support is no longer rising among Democrats and independents, and Republican support continues to crater.

When marriage equality was most popular, between 2021 and 2022, both chambers of Congress were able to successfully pass the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill to ensure that same-sex marriages would be treated as valid, even if the U.S. Supreme Court should reverse its own precedent — as it did with the issue of abortion — and restore state-level prohibitions on same-sex couples in select states.

Recently, Republicans have seized on LGBTQ issues — particularly displays of gender nonconformity, ranging from drag to transgender access to health care — as wedge issues that they believe will galvanize voters to support them. 

Some of that animus towards transgender people has been redirected toward the LGBTQ community in general and attacks on LGBTQ symbols, like the Pride flag or the celebration of Pride Month.

“I think people are conflating same-sex rights with transgender rights, and they are very different issues,” Sen. Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.), one of the Republicans who voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, told Business Insider last year.

Beyond that, the decline in support may indicate the loss of “soft” supporters, who may have been influenced by larger societal trends or pressures to claim they support same-sex nuptials when, upon closer inspection, they did not.

Other reasons for the decline in support may be part of a backlash against LGBTQ visibility by people who believe that too much attention is paid to sexual orientation and gender identity, or by those who believe the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement is attempting to “groom” or “indoctrinate” children into identifying as LGBTQ or treating homosexuality as acceptable. 

While some may find the recent declines in support for same-sex marriage troubling, others suggest that there is more room for growth among supporters — although the shift may not happen in the immediate future.

“As the percentage of Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or something other than heterosexual continues to rise in the U.S., public support for same-sex marriage and views of the morality of same-sex relations remain high, although not holding at the peak levels recorded two years ago,” Gallup’s Megan Brenan wrote of the survey results.

“With younger Americans consistently more likely than older Americans to favor legal same-sex marriage and to view same-sex relations as morally acceptable, public support should resume its growth at some point in the coming decades, should younger adults and new generations entering adulthood maintain higher levels of support,” Brenan said.

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