ABC – WaPo Poll Confirms, Yet Again: Catholics (Increasingly) Support Gay Marriage

Yet again, research has shown that a majority of Americans now support legal provision for gay marriage; that support is at a new high – and that support, and the increase in support, is particularly strong for US Catholics.

A new poll for ABC – Washington Post is just the latest in a run of recent polls to confirm: an absolute majority of Americans now support marriage recognition for same sex couples. This poll used question wording which is identical to previous polls over the past 10 years, so the results are strictly comparable with earlier years – and show a dramatic shift in the direction of support for equality. This shift in support is also reflected in several other reputable pollsters with comparable results to provide a discernible trend:

More than half of Americans say it should be legal for gays and lesbians to marry, a first in nearly a decade of polls by ABC News and The Washington Post.

This milestone result caps a dramatic, long-term shift in public attitudes. From a low of 32 percent in a 2004 survey of registered voters, support for gay marriage has grown to 53 percent today. Forty-four percent are opposed, down 18 points from that 2004 survey.


This dramatic shift in support in just 5 years is clearly shown in a simple graph:

Even more interesting than the well-established movement in favour of support, is the change in the relative strength of feeling – something I have inferred from detailed cross-tabs in the past, but have not previously seen clearly spelt out.

The survey also shows a shift in how intensely people feel on this issue. In the past, the number of Americans who felt strongly that gay marriage should be banned far outnumbered those who were passionate in their belief that it should be legal. That has balanced out, with 35 percent strongly against legal gay marriage and 36 percent strongly in favor.


No wonder some Republicans are now recognizing that strident opposition to LGBT equality is no longer a guaranteed vote- winner, and may even be an electoral liability. Instead, for some voter groups, support for gay marriage could be a vote winner:

This week, Democrats introduced bills to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and noted how the tables have turned.

“What do I say to the idea that this is a wedge issue? I say ‘Hallelujah,’” Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who is gay, told reporters, according to the liberal Web site Talking Points Memo. “The fact that we’ve now evolved to the point where the Republicans are complaining about the fact that we introduced this bill because it causes them political problems is a great sign of progress. It used to be the other way around.”


What most interests me in this poll, is the religious breakdown. Once again, this poll shows that Catholics break in favour – and are increasing support at a faster rate than other demographics – but support has increased for all religious groupings.

Support is up by a striking 23 points among white Catholics, often a swing group and one that’s been ready, in many cases, to disregard church positions on political or social issues. But they have company: Fifty-seven percent of non-evangelical white Protestants now also support gay marriage, up 16 points from its level five years ago. Evangelicals, as noted, remain very broadly opposed. But even in their ranks, support for gay marriage is up by a double-digit margin.


For more commentary, see the Washington Post and ABC


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4 comments for “ABC – WaPo Poll Confirms, Yet Again: Catholics (Increasingly) Support Gay Marriage

  1. Mareczku
    March 19, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    With the economy in trouble, a high unemployment rate and the median family income fall for the last 10 years; in my opinion, the conservatives are just annoying people with their fight against gay marriage. They are turning people off with their intolerance.

    • March 19, 2011 at 11:07 pm

      I agree, Mareczku This is precisely why the GOP in New Hampshire have decided to delay introducing their proposed repeal of gay marriage for that state, and why they are making the Indiana businessmen, usually such staunch Republicans, uneasy.

      Some conservative fanatics want to make the issue a key one in next year’s elections – I hope they do, but it is unlikely, The serious candidates, those with access to real information on the voters’ mood, know that a strong stand against marriage equality will simply turn away the crucial independents that they need, and who are far more interested in other , more pressing issues.

  2. John
    March 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    Your American readers might be interested in this series on Catholicism and sexual diversity, scheduled for the Autumn. See

    • March 19, 2011 at 11:09 pm

      Thanks for pointing this out, and for the link John.

      I am in fact preparing a post on this, and a few other matters – but some technical issues have left me a little behind on posting. I hope to complete the piece I’m working on in the next day or two.

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