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Saturday, October 22, 2016

WASHINGTON — The rapid evolution of attitudes toward gay marriage is a wonder to behold. On few issues has public opinion moved as quickly or decisively. Many who are against the formal recognition of homosexual unions are now resigned to the reality they will eventually become commonplace.

The main drivers of this transformation are obvious. Most Americans now know that people they care about are gay or lesbian, and empathy can do wonderful things. Partly because of this, younger Americans overwhelmingly favor same-sex marriage. They will dominate the electorates of the future.

But another factor deserves more notice: Steadily increasing numbers of Americans have come to believe that gays and lesbians are not social revolutionaries looking to alter the nature of marriage. Rather, they are seen as simply wanting to be part of an institution that is already open to their straight fellow citizens. This shift in perspective has been essential in normalizing the idea of gay unions.

That finding comes our way courtesy of a series of surveys that have been conducted by Third Way, a policy organization close to moderate Democrats, and the Human Rights Campaign, one of the country’s leading gay rights groups. Overall, their latest poll found that 53 percent of Americans now favor “allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally,” while 40 percent are opposed.

The two organizations have been tracking this question: “Do you think gay couples who want to get married are trying to change the institution of marriage or join it?” In 2009, Americans were closely divided on this: 50 percent said gay couples wanted to join marriage, while 41 percent said these couples wanted to change it.

In the latest survey that the groups will release this week as part of their aptly named “Commitment Campaign,” 58 percent said gays and lesbians wanted to join marriage and only 27 percent said they were looking to change it. This suggests that an increasing number of Americans reject the culture-war frame when it comes to gay marriage, and that fewer and fewer see it as threatening their own values.

The survey was also striking in showing that Americans make careful distinctions around the religious freedom questions raised by granting gays and lesbians access to marriage.

  • Dominick Vila

    One of the greatest ironies is that at a time when more and more people choose to cohabitate, the willingness of the gay community to marry may very well save the institution of marriage, religious precepts notwithstanding.

    • CPAinNewYork

      Marriage without children? Doesn’t seem to make much sense in a historical perspective and I don’t think that it will “…save the institution of marriage.”

      • Dominick Vila

        Marriage involves more than procreation. In any case, there are plenty of children available for adoption who would benefit from caring parents regardless of whether they are heterosexual or gay.

  • dalnb

    What should a person think from conclusions drawn from the advocates of gay/lesbians? Its like asking the fox if he should be allowed to sleep with the chickens.
    This is about as reliable research and article as claiming the sun belongs to a billioinair Realator who is only sharing it with the rest of us; what a farce!

    • jointerjohn

      Neither your simile nor your analogy make sense. The only thing you made clear is that you have no use for advocates of gays/lesbians. Now go play and let the grown-ups talk.

      • dalnb

        SORRY if I offended you; however, your reply does not sound like one from an adult so I am not sure you would understand an adult conversation!

        • jointerjohn

          No offense taken. Interesting, since my reply was dismissive but displayed nothing to indicate I was offended. Is English your first language?

  • elw

    It is crazy to think that same sex marriage will somehow rescue “the institution of marriage. The truth is that marriage is not an institution and it changes as we do; It always has. We get divorced today because it is accepted by society at large and what people want. The LGBT Community is not going to change that, nor should anyone expect them to. In fact they will most likely get divorces themselves. It doesn’t have to be that complicated, we do not need a reason to give them the same rights as the rest of us have; it is simply the right thing to do and clearly the choice of the majority of our voters.

  • Lovefacts

    While many people believe marriage is a covenant between the couple and God, it’s really a contract. In fact, it’s straight contract law. That’s why marriages are registered with the state and, for a divorce, a court must dissolve this marriage contract–be one married in a church or before a JP or a court clerk.

  • howa4x

    Wow what will the republicans have left to run on?