Poll: US support for equal marriage at record high in wake of Supreme Court rulings

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A poll conducted in the week following the US Supreme Court’s ruling in two key equal marriage cases has found that support for same-sex marriage across the US is at a record high.

The USA Today poll found that the two rulings, one on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and its refusal to rule on Proposition 8 were in sync with the public’s views.

The poll found that 55% of Americans supported equal marriage, with 40% opposed. It was 2012 when a majority of US citizens had backed equal marriage, as before that it was always below 50%.

The USA Today poll found the highest level of support since polling on the issue began with Gallup in 1996. The first poll found that 27% backed the idea of equal marriage.

A 68% majority of Republicans opposed equal marriage, and 51% of those over 65 years of age. In the South of the US, which generally has not shown a majority in favour of equal marriage, less than half of respondents opposed it.

Asked specifically about the rulings, 48% said they supported the Supreme Court decision on DOMA with 43% opposed.

Interestingly, simultaneous rulings by the court on the Voting Rights Act, and tightening rules on affirmative action, are not so much in sync with popular opinion.

“Neither one of those decisions is as a legal matter a huge gay rights victory,” says Tom Goldstein, a Harvard Law School professor and publisher of SCOTUSblog, which analyzes the high court.

“But it’s the moral message from the court that these unions are entitled to equal respect … that is probably the lasting legacy of the decisions and is probably going to play a significant role in public opinion.”