The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

March 21, 2013

Poll: Support for gay marriage reaches all-time high

— Support for same-sex marriage among Americans has jumped significantly in the past year to an all-time high of 58 percent, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

That number reflects a remarkable — and remarkably fast — turnabout in American public opinion on one of the most emotionally raw and politically divisive issues of the past decade.

As recently as 2010, opponents of same-sex marriage outnumbered supporters. As recently as 2006, they outnumbered them by a double-digit margin, 58 percent to 36 percent.

Seven years later, that picture has turned upside down.

The change is apparent across the board, with Americans of all political stripes and age groups becoming increasingly supportive of gay marriage. Fully 81 percent of adults between the ages of 18 and 29 support same-sex marriage, and while support dips to 44 percent among those 65 and older, both of those figures are highs.

Most Republicans continue to oppose gay marriage, but among Americans younger than 50, a slim majority of Republicans and GOP-leaning independents now support it.

On Monday, there were signs that both parties' establishments were trying to catch up to this shift in beliefs. Republican leaders, performing an "autopsy" of last fall's election defeats, said they fear that the GOP's position on same-sex marriage is driving some young voters away.

And among Democrats, former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton appeared in a Web video to endorse legalizing same-sex marriage.

"I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples," Clinton says in the video, released by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group. "I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law."

During her presidential run in 2008, Clinton endorsed same-sex "civil unions" but not marriage. But her shift does not make her the first major Democratic contender for 2016's presidential nomination to signal support for gay marriage.

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