Public support for gay marriage hits new high
Public support for gay marriage has hit a new high in the United States, with 64 percent of Americans now agreeing that same-sex marriages should be legally valid – the highest figure ever recorded.
The survey, from polling company Gallup, shows a five percent increase on last year, when 61 percent of Americans agreed with gay marriage.
The poll showed that 34 percent of Americans still oppose gay marriage, with 6 percent unsure.
The record poll comes almost two years after the US Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 US states.
Gay marriage has become a zeitgeist social issue in the United States in recent years, with the recently-elected Vice President, Mike Pence, holding a history of anti-gay positions.
Public support for gay marriage has risen steadily in recent decades across most Western democracies.
In 1996, when Gallup first began regularly asking about gay marriage, 68 percent of the public expressed opposition, versus 27 percent who supported gay marriage.
American gay marriage campaigners received a boost in 2012 when then US President Barack Obama announced his support for the cause.
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Obama, who said his position had “evolved” since his 2008 election, said in an interview at the time: “At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
“I had hesitated on gay marriage, in part because I thought civil unions would be sufficient.
“I was sensitive to the fact that, for a lot of people, the word marriage is something that provokes very powerful traditions and religious beliefs.”
But his opinion changed, he said, after he witnessed same-sex marriages, and thought about U.S. service personnel who were “not able to commit themselves in a marriage.”
Kim Davis, a clerk from Rowan County, Kentucky, attracted international headlines in 2015 when she refused to conduct gay marriages following the Supreme Court’s ruling. She was sued by four couples, with help from the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
Davis was jailed for several days after refusing to comply with contempt of court orders.
As of May 2017, gay marriage is legally recognised in 22 countries worldwide, including the United Kingdom, South Africa, and Mexico.