Leading Republican & Democratic Pollsters Release New Study on Momentum for the Freedom to Marry


“Rapid Increase in Support for Marriage Changes Political Equation: 

Emerging Majority Supports the Freedom to Marry,” Say Experts

Brad Luna

Jackie Yodashkin

WASHINGTON—Today at the National Press Club, two leading pollsters, one Republican and one Democratic, released a new analysis of polling data spanning more than a decade regarding the dramatic shift in public attitudes on the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. The results show steady growth in support over a 13-year period, with a striking and undeniable acceleration over the past two years. This surge is the result of evolving positions among every group analyzed, including older Americans and Republicans, groups that have been the least supportive of the freedom to marry. 

View the full report here: http://freedomtomarry.org/MarriageTrendsMemo2011

The bipartisan analysis was written by Joel Benenson, President of Benenson Strategy Group and a leading Democratic pollster, and Dr. Jan van Lohuizen, President of Voter Consumer Research and a leading Republican pollster. Freedom to Marry, the national campaign to end discrimination in marriage, commissioned the study and hosted the event as part of its new federal campaign to overturn the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and expand public and political support for the freedom to marry. Freedom to Marry founder and President, Evan Wolfson, testified last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and is generally considered the architect of the marriage movement.

“America’s elected officials are lagging behind the American people, a majority of whom have opened their hearts and changed their minds and now support the freedom to marry with accelerating momentum,” said Wolfson.  ”This authoritative analysis by leading pollsters in both parties will strengthen Freedom to Marry’s federal campaign and help make the political case that supporting the freedom to marry is not only the right thing to do, but the right thing to do politically—on both sides of the aisle.”

“The political landscape is changing rapidly,” said Benenson. “The momentum is clearly in favor of extending the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian Americans, and the generational dynamics suggest this momentum will only continue.”

Support for the freedom to marry rose about 1% per year over a 13-year period between 1996 and 2009. In 2010 and 2011, it shot up 5% per year. Voters under 40 support marriage by almost 70%. As young people reach voting age, this rise is expected to continue.

But the generational shift is only one factor. 

“The remarkable surge over the last two years can’t be explained by generational change alone. It suggests that people across the political spectrum are rethinking their positions—and deciding in favor of the freedom to marry,” said Lohuizen. 

Since 2006, support has increased:
  • 15% among seniors
  • 13% among Independents
  • 8% among Republicans
“The political center of gravity on the freedom to marry has shifted dramatically since 1996, when Congress first voted on the question, and it’s time for politicians and political advisors to catch up with the change,” said Wolfson. “If the American people can go from 27% support in 1996 to 53% in 2011, with even stronger support among younger Americans across the political spectrum, so can those who seek to lead America and be on the right side of not just history, but politics.”

Freedom to Marry is the national campaign to end marriage discrimination. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.