Weekly churchgoers remain the primary opponents, not that this is surprising.
Seventy-one percent of Americans say they support legal same-sex marriage, which exceeds the previous high of 70% recorded in 2021 by one percentage point.
These data are from Gallup’s annual Values and Beliefs poll, conducted May 2-22.
When Gallup first polled about same-sex marriage in 1996, barely a quarter of the public (27%) supported legalizing such unions. It would take another 15 years, until 2011, for support to reach the majority level. Then in 2015, just one month before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, public support for legalizing gay marriage cracked the 60% level, and last year it reached the 70% mark for the first time.
Weekly Churchgoers Are the Final Holdouts of Opposition
Rising national support for legal same-sex marriage reflects steady increases among most subgroups of the population, even those who have traditionally been the most resistant to gay marriage. Adults aged 65 and older, for example, became mostly supportive in 2016 — as did Protestants in 2017 and Republicans in 2021.
Americans who report that they attend church weekly remain the primary demographic holdout against gay marriage, with 40% in favor and 58% opposed.
Analyzing Gallup’s trends since 2004, Americans who seldom or never attend church have always been mostly supportive of same-sex couples getting legally married. Among those who attend nearly weekly or monthly, support did not rise to the majority level until 2014.
Weekly churchgoers, however, have yet to reach a majority level of support in the trend. The current 40% among this group who support same-sex marriage is within the 39% to 44% range Gallup has recorded since 2016.
As Gallup’s trend on support for legal same-sex marriage inches ever upward, the question is when it will reach its ceiling. While support has typically increased by small percentages on an annual basis — often within the margin of error — cumulatively, the increases have produced a transformation in U.S. attitudes on an issue Americans once vehemently opposed.
Some observers of the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion related to Roe v. Wade in May have questioned whether an overturning of Roe would clear a path for the conservative-leaning court to also overturn Obergefell. If this were to happen, the court would be moving in opposition to a public opinion trend that has shown increasing support.