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The Turning Point for Marriage Equality

For the first time, a Washington Post/ABC News poll has found that by a margin of 53-44 a majority of Americans think same-sex marriage should be legal. It won’t be the last poll to find support for marriage equality.

It’s just one poll. With a 3.5 point margin of error, the finding that a majority support same-sex marriage isn’t even statistically significant. And the poll that 35% of Americans are still strongly opposed. But it also found that public opinion has shifted 21 points in favor of same-sex marriage since the same poll was taken in 2004. It’s more evidence that public opinion on this issue is shifting—and shifting fast—as Americans become more comfortable with the idea of homosexual relationships.

As I have argued, it really is only a matter of time before same-sex marriage is legal in the U.S., even though same-sex marriage initiatives across the U.S. have so far gone to defeat. It’s not just that the legal case against same-sex is so weak. It’s that it’s mostly older Americans that oppose same-sex marriage. Young Americans—the next generation of voters—support it overwhelmingly.

The poll's internals are striking. Every age group supports same-sex marriage more than the age groups above it. 68% of Americans aged 18-29 support it, compared to the just 33% of Americans aged 65 and older who do. At the same time, both moderates and independents support it by double-digit margins. That—as much as any legal reason—is why the Obama administration has decided to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act in court. Support for marriage equality is now a political winner for Democrats. With the Republican party dominated by those who are still strongly opposed to same-sex marriage, change may be slow in coming. But it will come.

Photo credit: Bastique

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