Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage
Public opinion on same-sex marriage
In Pew Research Center polling in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a margin of 57% to 35%.
Since then, support for same-sex marriage has steadily grown. Based on polling in 2016, a majority of Americans (55%) support same-sex marriage, compared with 37% who oppose it. See the latest data on same-sex marriage.
Attitudes on same-sex marriage by generation
The increase in the share of adults who favor same-sex marriage is due in part to generational change. Younger generations express higher levels of support for same-sex marriage.
However, older generations also have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in the past decade.
Attitudes on same-sex marriage by religious affiliation
Among people who are religiously unaffiliated, a solid majority have supported same-sex marriage since 2001.
Roughly six-in-ten Catholics (58%) now support same-sex marriage, as do nearly two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (64%).
Support for same-sex marriage among black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants remains lower than it is among other religious groups. Both groups, however, have become somewhat more accepting of same-sex marriage over the last decade.
Attitudes on same-sex marriage by political party identification
Seven-in-ten Democrats favor same-sex marriage, as do 61% of independents.
A smaller share of Republicans favor same-sex marriage (33%), although they also have become more supportive since 2001.
Attitudes on same-sex marriage by political ideology
Support for same-sex marriage now stands at 78% among self-described liberals and 66% among moderates.
Far fewer conservatives (29%) support same-sex marriage.
Attitudes on same-sex marriage by race
In 2001, roughly one-third of both whites and blacks expressed support for same-sex marriage. Today, 57% of whites support same-sex marriage, as do 42% of blacks.
Attitudes on same-sex marriage by gender
Support for same-sex marriage has risen among both men and women in recent years. Today, 58% of women and 52% of men support same-sex marriage.
Note: For more information on other religious groups or state-by state data, please see our 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study.
Source: Survey conducted March 17-27, 2016. Trend lines show aggregated data from polls conducted in each year. Question wording can be found here, and information on the Pew Research Center’s polling methodology can be found here.