Polling Tracks Growing and Increasingly Diverse Support for the Freedom to Marry

Last Updated July 2, 2014

Public opinion research clearly demonstrates that a growing majority supports the freedom to marry. Likewise, support continues to rise in every state, demographic and community. This resource tracks marriage polling at the nationalstate level, and in key demographics.

Polling Highlights

Record High Support: A 2014 Washington Post/ABC News poll shows 59% of voters nationwide support the freedom to marry. 50% or more of Americans in every region of the country support the freedom to marry.

Non-Marriage States: Even in states without marriage for same-sex couples, a majority support the freedom to marry. A December 2013 poll from Anzalone Liszt Grove Research found that 51% of voters living in non-marriage states (at the time, 34 states) support marriage for same-sex couples. Support for marriage is strong in every region of the country - 59% in Central states, 53% in Western states, and opinion is split evenly in the South, with 46% in favor and 46% opposed.  

A Constitutional Question: A 2013 Washington Post-ABC News poll found that by a 2-to-1 margin (64-33%) Americans believe that this question should be decided based on the U.S. Constitution, not left to families to struggle over case-by-case, battle by battle.

Evangelical Millenials: Pollster and Former Romney Director of Data Science, Alex Lundry, found that 64% of self-identifying Evangelical millenials support same-sex marriage. 

Catholics:New York Times/CBS News poll conducted February 23-27, 2013 shows 62% of American Catholics are in favor of legalizing marriage for same-sex couples.

African Americans: A national Gallup poll conducted November 26-29, 2012 found 53% of African Americans thought marriages between same-sex couples should be recognized officially and should have the same rights as straight married couples.

Hispanics: A Quinnipiac Polling Institute poll conducted February 27-March 4, 2013 showed 63% of Hispanic voters support same-sex marriage.

Republicans: A 2014 Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that support for the freedom to marry crosses party lines, with 40% of Republicans saying they support marriage for same-sex couples, with 23% strongly supportive. Among self-described moderates, support is at 64%, with just 27% opposed. 

In the States: Support for the freedom to marry had increased immensely in all 50 states over the past 8 years. A report from the Williams Institute (PDF) shows that since 2004, there has been an average increase of 13.6 percentage points in support of the freedom to marry in each state.  

National Polls

March 5, 2014: The Washington Post/ABC News 

National poll demonstrating record support for the freedom to marry, with 59% of respondents saying they supported marriage for same-sex couples, and only 34% saying they were opposed. The deep support reaches into every region of the country, including the South, Midwest, and West, and extends across party lines, with 40% of Republicans back the freedom for all couples to marry.

KEY FINDINGS:

  • For the first time, 50% or more of Americans in every region of the country support the freedom to marry. In the South, support is at 50% to 42% opposed; in the Midwest, support is at 66% to 28% opposed; in the West, support is at 59% to 32% opposed; and in the Northeast, support is at 68% to 26% opposed.
  • For the first time, every age grouping shows a plurality of support. Among Americans age 65 and over, support is at 47% to 43% opposed; among voters age 40-64, support is at 54% to 38% opposed; among voters age 18-39, support is at 72% to 22% opposed.
  • Support cuts across political beliefs: Among Republicans, support is at 40%, with 23% strongly supportive. Among self-described moderates, support is at 64% to 27% opposed.
  • 50% of Americans believe that the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection gives gays the right to marry, while just 41 percent say it does not.
  • Among all voters, Americans who are supportive feel more intensely about their position than those opposed — 39% are strongly supportive versus 24% who are strongly opposed.

January 20, 2014: Anzalone Liszt Grove Research

Poll confined to 34 states without marriage for same-sex couples, demonstrating majority support even in these states, with 51% of respondents saying they supported marriage for same-sex couples, and only 41% saying they were opposed. 

KEY FINDINGS:

  • In every region of the country, voters support the freedom to marry: In Central states, 59% of respondents said they support marriage for same-sex couples (with just 36% opposed, a 23-point margin). In Western states, 53% are supportive (with 34% opposed, a 19-point margin). And even in the South, voters are split evenly, with 46% in favor and 46% opposed. 
  • 78% of respondents said that they believe extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples will either have a minimal impact or positive impact on them personally. Just 21% believe that marriage between same-sex couples will have a negative impact. 
  • Regardless of their personal views on marriage, voters in non-marriage states feel that same-sex couples will have the freedom to marry in their state in the next few years. A majority (56%) said they believe this, and even among opponents of the freedom to marry, 49% said they believe their state will be marrying same-sex couples soon.  

March 18, 2013: The Washington Post/ABC News 

National poll demonstrating (at the time) record support for the freedom to marry, with 58% of respondents saying they supported marriage for same-sex couples, and only 36% saying they were opposed. 

KEY FINDINGS:

  • 81% of young adults ages 18-29, regardless of political affiliation, support the freedom to marry. 
  • 72% of Democrats said they support marriage, with just 23% voicing opposition, while 62% of Independents said they are supportive, with only 33% opposed.
  • 71% of political moderates said they support marriage for same-sex couples, with just 24% opposed. 
  • 52% of Republicans and GOP-leaning Independents ages 18-49 said they support the freedom to marry. 
  • Overall support for marriage has increased by 17 points since 2004, when 41% of respondents said they were supportive.
  • Among Republicans of all ages, support has soared since 2004, with numbers increasing 20 points among Republicans ages 50-64 and 16 points among Republicans over the age of 65. 

March 7, 2013: Analysis by Joel Benenson & Jan van Lohuizen

Publicly released polling since November 2012 shows that a broader, more diverse majority of Americans support the freedom to marry, while opposition is increasingly isolated within narrow demographic groups.

KEY FINDINGS: 

  • 59% of respondents oppose DOMA, the federal law that withholds equal benefits and protections for legally married same-sex couples.
  • A majority of voters under age 65 support the freedom to marry, by a margin of 8 points (52% support while 44% oppose)
  • All major non-evangelical religious groups are ready for the freedom to marry, including 54% support from white non-evangelical Protestants, 53% support from white Catholics, 54% support from Hispanic Catholics, 65% support from non-evangelical African-Americans, and 78% support from Jews. 
  • 58% of non-white college graduates support marriage for same-sex couples, as do 56% of white college graduates and 54% of non-white non-college graduates. 
  • 68% of Democrats and 54% of Independents support the freedom to marry, and significant numbers of some Republican groups are supportive as well - including 47% of Republicans who oppose the Tea Party and 34% of Republicans neutral to the Tea Party. 
  • 51% of Republicans under the age of 30 support marriage for same-sex couples, while only 46% are opposed.  

February 19, 2013: Anzalone Liszt Grove Research

A growing bipartisan majority of registered voters support marriage rights, with 75% of respondents saying they believe the freedom to marry is a Constitutional right.  

KEY FINDINGS:

  • 83% of those surveyed believe that marriage for same-sex couples will become legal nationwide in the next decade, a double-digit increase in voters' opinions on this issue in just two years. 
  • 62% of respondents believe that allowing same-sex couples to marry will either have not much impact or absolutely no impact all.
  • 75% of Americans believe that the freedom to marry is a Constitutional right, a sentiment that spans across parties - including 91% of Democrats, 75% of Independents, and 56% of Republicans.
  • 65% of respondents believe that this statement describes their feelings on marriage very well or pretty well: "Allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry says you believe the principle of equal human dignity should apply to all people."
  • 59% of respondents believe that this statement describes their feelings on marriage very well or pretty well: "Denying gays and lesbians the right to marry is considered discrimination."

June 6, 2012: CNN/ORC International

54% of Americans surveyed say "marriages between gay and lesbian couples should be recognized as legally valid." Only 42% say they "should not be recognized as valid."

KEY FINDINGS:

  • 39% of those surveyed feel "strongly" in favor of the freedom to marry, compared to 34% who feel "strongly" about opposing marriage for same-sex couples.
  • 73% of voters ages 18-34 support the freedom to marry, compared to 24% opposed.
  • 70% of Democrats supports the freedom to marry, compared with 28% opposed.
  • 60% of Independent voters support the freedom to marry, with 37% opposed.
  • 59% of "non-white" respondents support the freedom to marry, with 39% opposed. This margin of support is stronger than the full sample.
  • 60% of respondents say they have a close friend or family member who is gay, up from 49% two years ago.  

May 22, 2012: The Washington Post/ABC

53% of Americans surveyed say marriage should be legal for same-sex couples. Only 39% say they oppose the freedom to mary, an all-time low. 

KEY FINDINGS:

  • 59% of black Americans support the freedom to marry, while 65 percent applauded President Obama's endorsement of marriage from two weeks prior. 
  • 69% of voters uder the age of 30 support the freedom to marry, with 51 percent saying they support it "strongly."
  • 58% of Independent voters support the freedom to marry, with 43% saying they support it "strongly." 

March 2012: The Wall Street Journal/NBC

25% of Americans surveyed say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the freedom to marry. 20% say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes the freedom to marry, and 54% say a candidate's stance on marriage would not affect their vote. 

KEY FINDINGS:

  • 40% of voters who supported President Barack Obama in 2008 say they are more likely to support a candidate who supports the freedom to marry, with 5% of 2008 Obama supporters saying they are more likely to support a candidate who opposes marriage for all couples.
  • 39% of Democrats say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the freedom to marry, with 9% saying they are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes marriage for all couples. 
  • 22% of Independent voters say they are more likely to vote for a candidate who supports the freedom to marry, with 11% saying they are more likely to vote for a candidate who opposes marriage for all couples.
  • 50% of black Americans say they support the freedom to marry, compared to 32% in October 2009.
  • 31% of Republicans say they support the freedom to marry, compared to 22% in October 2009.
  • 56% of "moderate" voters say they support the freedom to marry, compared to 40% in October 2009.
  • 59% of Catholic voters say they support the freedom to marry, compared to 24% who oppose it.
  • 50% of "frequent church-attending Catholic voters" say they support the freedom to marry, compared to 35% who oppose it.
  • In every region of the country, support for the freedom to marry is equal to or greater than opposition (56% in favor/33% opposed in the Northeast, 49% in favor/45% opposed in the Midwest, 45% in favor/45% opposed in the South, 49% in favor/36% opposed in the West).

April 2011: The New York Times' "Five Thirty Eight" Blog

KEY FINDINGS:

  • In its survey of marriage polls since 1988, FiveThirtyEight found an accelerating shift in support for the freedom to marry, with opponents now clearly in a minority.
  • Their analysis shows a 4-point gain in support of marriage for same-sex couples in each of the last two years.
  • In the past, support for marriage grew at a rate of 1 to 2 points per year. 

538 Graph 

 

State-Level Polls

Although polling about the freedom to marry is not available in every state, a number of marriage-related surveys have been conducted in many states. The most updated polling data available can be found on each state's state page. 

Alabama: Support for the freedom to marry has doubled in Alabama in the past 8 years, with 32% of the population now supporting marriage. In 2004, just 16% were supportive. (Williams Institute, 2012) 

Alaska: A majority of Alaskans (52%) support marriage including 55% of voters who are under the age of 65. (Public Policy Polling, May 2014)

Arizona: In Arizona, a majority of voters support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, with 55% saying they support marriage, and just 35% saying they oppose marriage. (Behavior Research Center, September 2013)

Arkansas: Support for the freedom to marry continues to grow in Arkansas with 53% of voters under 30 supporting marriage and 53% of all voters in Arkansas supporting some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples. (Public Policy Polling, May 2014)

CaliforniaA wide majority (61%) of California residents support the freedom to marry. (Field Poll, March 2013) 

Colorado: Support for the freedom to marry has reached a record high in Colorado, with 56% in support and only 36% who are opposed. Voters under 45 favor marriage for same-sex couples by a 71/21 margin. (Public Policy Polling, March 2014)

ConnecticutA majority of Connecticut voters (55%) agree with the current freedom to marry policy in the state, and only 32% want it to be illegal again. 70% of respondents said that marriage between same-sex couples has had no impact on their life. (Public Policy Polling, October 2011)

Delaware: A majority (54%) of Delaware voters support the freedom to marry, with only 37% saying they are opposed. (Global Strategy Group, February 2013)

District of Columbia In our nation's capital, 56% of residents supported marriage for same-sex couples in January 2010, shortly after Mayor Adrian Fenty signed the freedom to marry into law. (The Washington Post, January 2010

Florida: Voters in Florida are moving on marriage, with a majority of voters (57%) who support the freedom to marry. (Public Religion Research Institute, July 2014)

Georgia: A majority of Georgia residents (57%) say that same-sex couples should be able to either marry or join in civil union. (Public Policy Polling, August 2013)

Hawaii: 55% of Hawaii residents say they think marriage between same-sex couples should be legal, with just 37% opposed. (Anzalone Liszt Grove Research, January 2013)

IdahoSupport for the freedom to marry has increased dramatically in the past 8 years, with 41% of residents now supporting marriage. In 2004, just 26% were supportive. (Williams Institute, 2012)   

Illinois50% of residents in Illinois support marriage for same-sex couples by a historic 21-point margin. Only 29% are opposed. (Crains/Ipsos, February 2013)

Indiana: 54% of Indiana residents oppose changing the state constitution to bar gay couples from marrying, while just 38% support doing so. (Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University and WISH-TV, December 2012)

Iowa: Residents of Iowa have had the freedom to marry since April 2009. An overwhelming majority of Iowa residents (78%) say that the freedom to marry has had no impact on their lives one way or another. Among Republicans, 61% believe it has had no negative effect on them. 46% of Iowans agree with the freedom to marry in the state. (Public Policy Polling, March 2014)

Kansas: Support for same-sex couples continues to grow in Kansas, with 66% of voters saying they support either marriage or civil union for same-sex couples. Just 32% of respondents said they were opposed to any legal family status for gay couples and even a majority of Republicans (53%) favor either marriage or civil unions. (Public Policy Polling, February 2014)

KentuckySupport for the freedom to marry has increased dramatically in the past 8 years, with 33% of the population now supporting marriage. In 2004, just 21% were supportive. (Williams Institute, 2012)   

Louisiana: Voters in Louisiana are beginning to shift their perspectives on same-sex couples, with 54% of respondents saying they support either marriage or civil union for same-sex couples. (Public Policy Polling, February 2014)

MaineOver a year after the freedom to marry took effect in Maine, 72% of respondents explained that same-sex couples marrying had no impact or a positive impact on their lives. Mainers now support the freedom to marry by a 17 point margin, 54%/31%. (Public Policy Polling, November 2013)

Maryland: A large majority (57%) of Maryland voters said they would vote to uphold the freedom to marry at the ballot in November 2012, with 37% saying they would vote against marriage for all couples. This is consistent with a January 2011 Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies poll showing 51% support for marriage in the state.residents support the freedom to marry. (Public Policy Polling, May 2012)

Massachusetts: Voters in Massachusetts are very happy with the fact that their state recognizes the freedom to marry. 62% of residents said they think marriage between same-sex couples sho-uld be legal, and only 30% say it should be illegal. Only 12% of respondents said they think there should be no legal recognition of same-sex relationships at all. (Public Policy Polling, June 2012)

MichiganPublic opinion on marriage is shifting in Michigan, where 56% of residents now support marriage for same-sex couples. (Michigan State University's State of the State Survey, November 2012)

MinnesotaA rapidly increasing plurality of residents in Minnesota support marriage for same-sex couples, with 47% of respondents saying they support the freedom to marry, and only 45% saying they are opposed. (Public Policy Polling, January 2013)

Mississippi: A majority (49%) of Mississippians support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples which up from 38% only a couple years ago. (Public Policy Polling, November 2013)

MissouriA large majority of Missouri residents support some form or legal respect for same-sex couples, with 33% saying they support marriage and 31% saying that gay couples should be allowed to form civil unions. (Public Policy Polling, June 2012)

Montana: A majority of voters in Montana have moved to support marriage, with 46% saying it should be legal, including 47% of independents. (Montana State University-Billings, March 2014)

Nebraska: A majority of Nebraskans, 54%, support some form of legal recognition for same-sex couples, with 32% saying they support marriage and an additional 22% saying they support civil union. (The Omaha World-Herald Poll, October 2012

NevadaIn Nevada, 57% of people surveyed said the state should repeal the ban on same-sex couples marrying, with just 36% opposed. (Moore Information, October 2013)

New HampshireIn New Hampshire, 60% of voters feel that the freedom to marry should be legal, compared to only 29% who feel it should be illegal. (Public Policy Polling, January 2014)

New Jersey: A wide majority of New Jersey voters (64%) support the freedom to marry, while just 30% say they do not support marriage for same-sex couples. (Quinnipiac, March 2013)

New Mexico: 51% of New Mexico residents say they support the freedom to marry - and 53% of respondents in an October 2013 poll say they support a ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court this year declaring the freedom to marry across the state. Support for marriage in New Mexico increased sharply in the summer of 2013, when eight New Mexico counties began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The poll also found that important segments of the state support marriage after learning that gay and lesbian couples can marry in some New Mexico counties but not others. For example, a majority of Independents (59%), older Hispanics (53%), Anglo men (54%), Catholics (54%) and Hispanics who attend church weekly (53%) support a favorable court ruling. (Why Marriage Matters New Mexico Poll, October 2013)

New York: A super-majority (60%) of New York voters support the freedom to marry. The voter super-majority includes 63% of independent voters and 56% of upstate voters. (Quinnipiac, December 2012

North Carolina: A majority (62%) of North Carolina residents say they support marriages or civil unions for same-sex couples, with 33% opposed. (Public Policy Polling, April 2014)

North Dakota: Support for the freedom to marry has nearly doubled in the past 8 years, with 40% of the state's residents now supporting marriage. In 2004, just 23% were supportive. (Williams Institute, 2012)     

Ohio: A growing number of Ohio residents support marriage for same-sex couples, with 52% of respondents now saying they favor the freedom to marry. (Washington Post, September 2012

Oregon: Oregon residents strongly support the freedom to marry, with 55% of respondents now saying they favor the freedom to marry. (Oregon Live, May 2014)

PennsylvaniaPennsylvania residents are moving forward on marriage, with majority support: 53% say they favor a constitutional amendment that would allow same-sex couples to get married, with 37% saying they "strongly" favor it. Just 43% say they are opposed. (Franklin & Marshall Poll, May 2013)

Rhode Island: A majority (60.4%) of Rhode Island voters support the freedom to marry. (Brown University, February 2013)

South CarolinaA majority of residents in South Carolina (54%) support either marriage or civil union for same-sex couples. (Public Policy Polling, December 2012 

South Dakota Support for the freedom to marry has increased dramatically in the past 8 years, with 45% of the state's residents now supporting marriage. In 2004, just 24% were supportive. (Williams Institute, 2012)  

Tennessee: Majorities of Tennesseans (49%) support the legal recognitions of same-sex couples, with 32% supporting marriage and 17% supporting civil unions. 69% of Tennesseans under the age of 30 support the freedom to marry. (Vanderbilt University, May 2013)

Texas: In the past, support for the freedom to marry in Texas was below 40% but today a majority of Texans (48%) now support marriage for same sex couples. (Texas Tech University, April 2014)

Utah: A plurality of Utahns agree that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry in Utah: 49% agree that same-sex couples should be allowed to get a state-issued marriage license, and 48% disagree. Additionaly 94% of Utahns believe the freedom to marry will not impact their marriage, with 84% saying it won't impact their family and 65% saying it wont adversely impact the state. (Benenson Strategy Group, September 2014)

VermontVermont residents are overall supportive of their state's decision to approve the freedom to marry over three years ago. 58% say they support marriage, with just 18% saying there should be no legal recognition for same-sex couples. (Public Policy Polling, August 2011)

Virginia: Support for marriage in Virginia has increased in the past six years. Now, 56% of Virginians say they support marriage for same-sex couples, including 75% of Democrats and 56% of Independent voters (The Washington Post, May 2013).  An additional poll found 55% of Virginians supportive of the freedom to marry, including 71% of respondents under the age of 30 (HRC Poll, July 2013)

WashingtonA majority of Washington residents say they support the freedom to marry, with 55% saying they would vote to uphold the freedom to marry at the ballot this November. (Associated Press, May 2012)

West Virginia: Support for the freedom to marry continues to increase, with a majority of West Virginia residents (49%) who support either civil unions or marriage for same-sex couples. (Public Policy Polling, September 2013)

WisconsinWisconsin is seeing a shift on marriage perspectives. Whereas an anti-gay marriage amendment passed in 2006 by a 19-point margin, recent polling finds that 51% of the state supports the freedom to marry now. (Wisconsin Gazette, April 2014)

WyomingSupport for the freedom to marry has increased sharply in the past 8 years, with 41% of the state's residents now supporting marriage. In 2004, just 26% were supportive. (Williams Institute, 2012)    

Demographic Polls

Polling has been conducted in a number of different American demographics to reflect that support for the freedom to marry is growing broader and more diverse.

Conservative Support for Marriage

A March 2013 poll shows that 52% of Republicans and GOP-leaning Independents under the age of 50 support the freedom to marry.

A March 2013 meta-analysis of data by Joel Benenson & Jan van Lohuizen found that 47% of Republicans who oppose the Tea Party support marriage for same-sex couples.

Catholic Support for Marriage

A Quinnipiac University poll conducted February 27-March 4, 2013 shows that 54 percent of American Catholics back the freedom to marry, with just 38 percent opposed. That's a big jump from December 2012, when Catholic support for marriage was at 49 percent. In July 2008, 36 percent of Catholics supported marriage (with 55 percent opposed), a testament to how quickly the marriage movement has come in four years.

New York Times/CBS News poll conducted February 23-27, 2013 shows 62% of American Catholics are in favor of legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. 

A Public Religion Research Institute survey from October 2012 shows that 57% of Hispanic Catholics support marriage for same-sex couples.

68% of Catholics ages 18-39 favor the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

Latino Support for Marriage

A March 2013 survey from Immigration Equality demonstrated that 64% of Latinos support including gay and lesbian families and same-sex couples in immigration reform. Support for the inclusion also crossed faith lines, with 71% of Catholics and 53% of Born-Again Christians supporting inclusive immigration reform.

An October 2012 poll from NBC Latino/IBOPE Zogby showed that a firm 60 percent of Latinos support marriage for same-sex couples, with 48% of the total survey population reporting that they "strongly" agree with the freedom to marry.

An April 2012 NCLR & SSRS survey found that 67% of acculturated Hispanics support "legal gay marriage," with 55% support from bi-cultural Hispanics, 67% support from Hispanic Catholics, and 79% support from Hispanics who say they have no religion.

African-American Support for Marriage

Two weeks after President Barack Obama's embrace of the freedom to marry, a CNN/ORC International poll found that 59% of black Americans support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, while 65% applauded President Obama's stance.

A Pew Research Center analysis of November 2012 Election Day exit polling found that 51% of African-Americans nationwide support marriage for same-sex couples, with just 41% opposed.