In spite of enduring threats to LGBTQ rights in the U.S., a recent poll found that Americans overall are more supportive of same-sex marriage than ever before.
Gallup’s annual Values and Morals poll, conducted May 1 through 10 and released on Wednesday, found that 67 percent of Americans surveyed said same-sex marriage should be legally valid.
That’s up 40 percentage points from 1996, when Gallup first asked the question, and it is the highest level of support on record.
Same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide since the Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 ruling in the Obergefell v. Hodges case. The decision was a historic victory for gay rights activists, who fought for years in lower courts for marriage equality, and it came over a decade after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. By 2015, 37 states and the District of Columbia already recognized marriage equality.
Activists have noted, though, that despite the steady rise in popular support, same-sex marriage faces very real and persistent threats. Fewer than half the Republicans polled — 44 percent — said gay marriage should be legal, according to Gallup. Other polls have found support to be even lower among the most conservative Republicans and Christian evangelicals, who dominate the GOP base, which President Donald Trump has catered to since declaring his candidacy. From signing discriminatory “religious liberty” orders to banning transgender people from the military, Trump and social conservatives have found ways to challenge LGBTQ rights.
Trump’s Supreme Court appointee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, is known to oppose same-sex marriage and in 2017 sent a message to state courts that they should challenge the Obergefell decision.
As HuffPost editor-at-large Michelangelo Signorile warned, “The greater threat in the short term than outright overturning Obergefell is the effort to turn same-sex marriage into second-class marriage.”
Some cities and states have thrown into question whether same-sex couples should receive spousal benefits, be allowed to adopt children and have both spouses’ names listed on birth certificates.
Despite such obstacles, the percentage of LGBTQ Americans in a same-sex marriage has steadily grown since the Supreme Court ruling. As of June 2017, when Gallup last released findings on the topic, just over 10 percent of adult gay and lesbian Americans said they were married to their partner.
That was far below the 50 percent for American adults overall, according to Pew Research, but was up from roughly 8 percent pre-Obergefell. “It’s likely that the percentage of married LGBT adults in the U.S. will continue to grow as new generations of same-sex couples enjoy their newfound rights,” Gallup writer Justin McCarthy said.
This rise in gay marriages means that Americans are increasingly likely to know someone who has wed a same-sex partner, which Gallup said may play a role in reversing previously held opposition to the legal status of such unions.
“Now that it’s been legal for nearly three years ― and even longer in certain states ― some opponents to gay marriage may be rethinking their previous opposition,” McCarthy wrote.