Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

AboutFollowDonate

Fact Sheet

June 26, 2017

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. And today, support for same-sex marriage is at its highest point since Pew Research Center began polling on this issue. Based on polling in 2017, a majority of Americans (62%) support same-sex marriage, while 32% oppose it. See the latest data on same-sex marriage.

    Year Favor Oppose
    2001 35% 57%
    2003 32% 59%
    2004 31% 60%
    2005 36% 53%
    2006 35% 55%
    2007 37% 54%
    2008 39% 51%
    2009 37% 54%
    2010 42% 48%
    2011 46% 45%
    2012 48% 43%
    2013 50% 43%
    2014 52% 40%
    2015 55% 39%
    2016 55% 37%
    2017 62% 32%

    Pew Research Center

    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, all generational cohorts have become more supportive of same-sex marriage in the past decade. Now, for the first time, more than half (56%) of Baby Boomers favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Support for same-sex marriage also has grown among those in the Silent Generation in recent years, although that remains the generational cohort least likely to express support for same-sex marriage (41%).

    Year Silent Generation (1928-45) Baby Boomers (1946-64) Generation X (1965-80) Millennials (1981 or later)
    2001 21% 32% 49%  51%
     2003 17% 33% 40% 51%
    2004 18% 30% 40% 44%
    2005 23% 36% 44% 49%
    2006 20% 34% 42% 51%
    2007 24% 34% 42% 53%
    2008 24% 36% 44% 54%
    2009 23% 32% 41% 51%
    2010 29% 38% 48% 53%
    2011 32% 40% 48% 61%
    2012 33% 41% 51% 64%
    2013 35% 41% 52% 66%
    2014 35% 46% 53% 67%
    2015 39% 45% 59% 70%
    2016 38% 46% 56% 71%
    2017 41% 56% 65% 74%

    Pew Research Center

    Attitudes on same-sex marriage by religious affiliation

    Among people who are religiously unaffiliated, a solid majority have supported same-sex marriage since 2001. Today, 85% of religious “nones” say same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

    Two-thirds of Catholics now support same-sex marriage, as do a similar share of white mainline Protestants (68%).

    Support for same-sex marriage among black Protestants and white evangelical Protestants remains lower than it is among other religious groups. However, the share of white evangelical Protestants who support same-sex marriage has grown from 27% in 2016 to 35% today.

     

    Year White evangelical Protestants White mainline Protestants Black Protestants Catholics Unaffiliated
    2001 13% 38% 30% 40% 61%
     2003 12% 35% 25% 38% 59%
    2004 11% 34% 19% 36% 61%
    2005 14% 39% 25% 39% 60%
    2006 12% 41% 21% 39% 63%
    2007 14% 43% 24% 40% 60%
    2008 16% 44% 24% 43% 62%
    2009 15% 36% 28% 42% 63%
    2010 20% 48% 29% 46% 62%
    2011 16% 54% 31% 53% 69%
    2012 19% 52% 35% 54% 73%
    2013 23% 55% 32% 54% 74%
    2014 21% 60% 41% 57% 77%
    2015 24% 62% 34% 57% 82%
    2016 27% 64% 39% 58% 80%
    2017 35% 68% 44% 67% 85%

    Pew Research Center

    Attitudes on same-sex marriage by political party identification

    About seven-in-ten (73%) Democrats and independents (70%) favor same-sex marriage.

    A smaller share of Republicans favor same-sex marriage (40%), although they also have become more supportive in recent years.

    Year Republicans Democrats Independents
    2001 21% 43% 43%
     2003 22% 43% 40%
    2004 17% 40% 37%
    2005 19% 45% 46%
    2006 17% 43% 44%
    2007 18% 48% 40%
    2008 19% 50% 44%
    2009 19% 50% 39%
    2010 24% 53% 46%
    2011 27% 56% 51%
    2012 25% 62% 52%
    2013 29% 59% 57%
    2014 30% 64% 58%
    2015 32% 66% 61%
    2016 33% 70% 61%
    2017 40% 73% 70%

    Pew Research Center

    Attitudes on same-sex marriage by political ideology

    Support for same-sex marriage now stands at 85% among self-described liberals and 70% among moderates.

    Far fewer conservatives (41%) support same-sex marriage. But like liberals and moderates, conservatives have also grown more supportive of same-sex marriage over time.

    Year Conservatives Liberals Moderates
    2001 18% 56% 41%
     2003 18% 57% 36%
    2004 15% 60% 34%
    2005 14% 69% 39%
    2006 16% 63% 39%
    2007 18% 65% 42%
    2008 20% 68% 45%
    2009 18% 63% 45%
    2010 23% 67% 49%
    2011 28% 67% 53%
    2012 26% 72% 57%
    2013 30% 73% 58%
    2014 29% 75% 62%
    2015 30% 79% 64%
    2016 29% 78% 66%
    2017 41% 85% 70%

    Pew Research Center

    Attitudes on same-sex marriage by race

    In 2001, roughly one-third of both whites and blacks expressed support for same-sex marriage. Today, 64% of whites support same-sex marriage, as do 51% of blacks.

    Year White, non-Hispanic Black, non-Hispanic
    2001 34% 32%
     2003 32% 28%
    2004 31% 21%
    2005 37% 27%
    2006 35% 25%
    2007 38% 26%
    2008 41% 26%
    2009 37% 29%
    2010 44% 30%
    2011 49% 36%
    2012 49% 40%
    2013 50% 38%
    2014 53% 42%
    2015 58% 39%
    2016 57% 42%
    2017 64% 51%

    Pew Research Center

    Attitudes on same-sex marriage by gender

    Support for same-sex marriage has risen among both men and women in recent years. Today, 64% of women and 60% of men support same-sex marriage.

    Year Men Women
    2001 32% 38%
     2003 28% 36%
    2004 28% 34%
    2005 34% 39%
    2006 31% 39%
    2007 32% 41%
    2008 34% 43%
    2009 32% 41%
    2010 38% 46%
    2011 41% 51%
    2012 44% 52%
    2013 46% 53%
    2014 49% 55%
    2015 53% 58%
    2016 52% 58%
    2017 60% 64%

    Pew Research Center

    Note: For additional analysis of the 2017 data on same-sex marriage, see this report. For more information on other religious groups or state-by state data, please see our Religious Landscape Study.

    Source: Survey conducted June 8-18, 2017. 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.