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Religious Tolerance logo

Single polls about gay marriage (a.k.a.
same-sex marriages or SSM) & civil unions

2017: Polls Showing Support for & Opposition
to Gay Marriage/Same-sex Marriage/SSM

On this web site, "SSM" is an acronym for gay marriage and same-sex marriage.
"LGBT" is an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender/Transsexual.

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star 2017-MAY-07: Recent findings by Gallup:

Starting in the mid 1990's, Gallup has periodically asked a random selection of U.S. adults whether marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages.

Between 1995 and 2011:

  • The degree of approval almost doubled. It rose from 27% to 53%, and
  • Opposition declined from 68% to 45%.

Between 2012 and 2015:

  • Approval rose readily steadily about 3 percentage points per year.

  • Opposition dropped at about the same rate.

  • Since youths in the U.S. tend to be much more supportive of gay marriage than seniors, these trends were expected to continue for the foreseeable future.

  • There was a small temporary reversal in these trends during 2015 which may have been caused by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in mid-2015. This was in the case Obergefell v. Hodges; it legalized gay marriage throughout the United States.

  • A Washington Post and ABC News poll in 2015-APR -- two months before the High Court's ruling -- found that:
    • 61% of U.S. adults supported allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally.

    • 78% of adults under the age of 30 support same-sex marriage.

    • 62% supported requiring states to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.

    • Strong opposition continues among white evangelical Protestants and those who attend religious services at least once a week.

    • The margin of error of the survey is ±3.5 percentage points.

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By mid-2017:

  • A 2017-MAY Gallup poll has shown that among all U.S. adults, approval had reached 64%: Opposition had declined to 34%. The polls' margin of error is typically ±4 percentage points.

    • By political party: 74% of Democrats, 71% of Independants, and 47% of Republicans support gay marriage.

    • By religion: 65% of Roman Catholics in spite of strong opposition from the church hierarchy. 55% of other Christians support SSM. 1
  • A 2017-JUN poll by the Pew Research Center showed confirmed Gallup's results:
    • Approval among all adults was 62%; opposition was 35%,

    • By religious groups, support was:
      • 35% among White evangelical Protestants,
      • 44% among black Protestants,
      • 67% among Roman Catholics,
      • 68% among White mainline Protestants, and
      • 85% among NOTAs (those who are religiously NOT Affiliated including Agnostics and Atheists.)

    • By political party affiliation: Between 2001 and 2017 support has increased from:
      • 21% to 40% among Republicans,
      • 43% to 73% among Democrats, and
      • 43% to 70% among Independents.

    • By gender: Between 2001 and 2017 support has increased from:
      • 38% to 64% among Women, and
      • 32% to 60% among Men.

PEW Research poll 2

  • The only U.S. location where qualified same-sex couples still cannot marry is the Territory of American Samoa where most people are regarded as American residents and not American citizens. Thus, the High Court's rulings are not necessarily recognized there.

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star Link detected between the legalization of gay marriages and suicide attempts among LGBT adolescents in the U.S.:

Among U.S. youth, ages 15 to 24, suicide is the third most common cause of death, after fatal injuries and homicides. LGBT youth commit suicide at about four times the rate of heterosexual youth. 4

Researchers at John Hopkins University and Harvard University recently looked for a linkage between states' legalization of same-sex marriage and suicide attempts among adolescents living in those states. They examined data from over 760,000 students who responded to the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, between 1991 and early 2015. The Surveillance System contained data about attempted suicides between 2004 and 2015. By early 2015, 32 individual states had legalized same-sex marriages and 15 had not. (The U.S. Supreme Court later legalized such marriage in all U.S. states during mid-2015).

The researchers' paper was published in JAMA Pediatrics on 2017-FEB-20. It found an association between a drop in suicide rates among LGBT high school students in those states where gay marriage had been legalized, when compared with youths in other states.

The survey had asked students:

"During the past 12 months, how many times did you actually attempt suicide?"

Results were:

  • Among all students. 28.5% of students who "identified as a sexual minority" indicated that they had attempted suicide one or more times. For heterosexual students, 6 percent responded they had attempted suicide.

  • Among LGBT students living in states that had legalized same-sex marriage, rates of suicide attempts were less: 24.5%. This is a 4 percentage point or 14% reduction!
  • Among LGBT students living in states that had not legalized same-sex marriage, there was no change in suicide rates.

The group's report indicated that if all states had legalized same-sex marriage by early 2015, that there would have been 134 thousand fewer adolescents attempting suicide yearly in the U.S.! Various resources estimate that there are 8 to 100 attempted suicide for every completed suicide.

One of the authors of the report, Julia Raifman is an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She issued a news release, saying:

"Policymakers need to be aware that policies on sexual minority rights can have a real effect on the mental health of [LGBT] adolescents. We can all agree that reducing adolescent suicide attempts is a good thing, regardless of our political views."

Psychiatrist Victor Schwartz is a medical officer at the JED Foundation, which is dedicated to the prevention of suicide by all youths. He was not involved in the study. He believes that feeling stigmatized can be frightening and painful. When interviewed on a PBS station he said:

“It’s a real risk factor, a feeling that you’re at odds with your family or community. You feel like you’re going to be left out on your own."

Mark L. Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University wrote an editorial in JAMA Pediatrics that said, in part.

"Stigma is one of the most frequently hypothesized risk factors for explaining sexual orientation disparities in suicide outcomes. Same-sex marriage reduces structural stigma associated with sexual orientation. There may be something about having equal rights — even if they have no immediate plans to take advantage of them — that makes students feel less stigmatized and more hopeful for the future." 4

Apparently government legalization of such marriages has convinced many LGBT students that their community is rapidly becoming accepted as equals by the majority of people in the U.S.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still accessible today.

  1. Justin McCarthy, "US Support for Gay Marriage Edges to New High," Gallup, 2017-MAY-07, at: http://www.gallup.com/
  2. "Public support for same-sex marriage reaches new milestone," Pew Research Center, 2017-JUN-18, at: http://www.people-press.org/
  3. "Changing Attitudes on Gay Marriage," Pew Research Centre, 2017-JUN-26, at: http://www.pewforum.org/
  4. "Legalizing same-sex marriage was associated with fewer youth suicide attempts, new study finds," Washington Post, 2017-FEB-21, at: https://www.washingtonpost.com/

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Copyright © 2013 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 2013-MAR
Latest update: 2017-AUG-15
Author: B.A. Robinson
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