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Religious Tolerance logo

Changes following the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing of same-
sex marriage (aka gay marriage) across the U.S. in its ruling of
the Obergefell v. Hodges case from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio,
and Tennessee.

Part 70:
2015-SEP to OCT:
Important polling data from the Public Policy
Research Institute

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We use the term "gay marriage."to represent the marriage of two persons of
the same sex. We prefer "Same-sex marriage," a more inclusive term that
includes spouses with a bisexual sexual orientation, but it would make this web
site harder to find because most search engines cannot handle synonyms.
"LGBT" refers to lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals.
"LGB" refers to lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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LGBT symbol 2015-OCT-31: Public Religion Research Institute's (PPRI) polling data on LGBT trends:

We have found PPRI public opinion surveys to be the most useful polls available on the topic of religion in the United States. Of particular value about the LGBT community is their American Values Atlas. They describe their Atlas as:

"... a powerful new online tool for understanding the complex demographic, political, and religious changes occurring in the United States today."

One series of polling results on American Values Atlas deals with beliefs by America adults about immigration reform, and contributions made by immigrants.

The other deals with LGBT matters. It is conducted approximately on a weekly basis and shows public opinion among American adults about:

  1. Support for, and opposition to, gay marriage (a.k.a. same-sex marriage).

  2. Support for, and opposition to state and federal laws guaranteeing to the LGBT community protection from discrimination in employment, accommodation, etc.

  3. Whether public accommodations -- businesses set up to serve the general population -- should be able to discriminate freely against LGBT customers because of the business owner's sincere religious beliefs. That is, should business owners enjoy the religious freedom to discriminate.

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American adults' opinions on same-sex-marriage (a.k.a. gay marriage)

The following graph shows the PPRI's American Values Atlas results about support of, and opposition to, gay marriage over the critical interval from two months before the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015-JUN-26 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, until three months afterwards. That was the ruling that legalized gay marriage across all of the United States except for the Territory of America Samoa:

About each week, PPRI polled about 1,000 U.S. adults selected at random from locations around the country. They asked the question:

"Now, we would like to get your views on some issues that are being discussed in the country today. Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose, or strongly oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally."

Results from 2015-MAY-01 to SEP-27 compare those who were in favor and strongly in favor (in green) with those who were opposed and strongly opposed (in blue):

Support/opposition to same-sex marriage 1

There was no significant change in support or opposition to gay marriage immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Obergefell.

Public reaction to major social change -- like redefining marriage access to include a minority group -- takes decades to reach its full effect. For example, during 1967, the High Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia to allow interracial couples to marry anywhere in the United States. That decison was based on the same due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that the ruling on same-sex marriage was based on five decades later.

  • About a decade earlier, in 1958, only 4% of U.S. adults favored allowing black-white interracial couples to marry. 2 A major cause of opposition to interracial marriage was the teaching by many conservative Christian denominations that God created the individual races, placed them in separate areas of the world, and intended them to remain separate forever. That belief is not as popular today as in the 20th century.

  • At the tme of the High Court's ruling, in 1967, the vast majority (72%) of American adults were still opposed to legalizing interracial marriage. Also, a near majority (48%) favored criminal punishments for those interracial couples who did marry.

  • By mid-2013, polling data showed that public opinion had flip-flopped: About 87% of U.S. adults favor allowing interracial couples to marry. This included 96% of blacks and 84% of whites. The polls' margin of error was ±2 percentage points. 3

It will probably take until the year 2060 for support for gay marriage to stabilize at a similar very high level.

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In the meantime, as of late 2015-SEP, 57% favored marriage equality; 35% were opposed, and 8% had no opinion or didn't answer. If a national plebiscite were taken at that time, probably the vast majority of uncertain voters would vote against marriage equality making the "no" vote about 42%. A comfortable margin of about 15% would vote in favor of allowing same-sex couples to marry. Since the long-term trends are towards increase acceptance of marriage equality, it would appear that national public support is secure for the future. However, there are large areas of the country in the South and mid-west where majorities still oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry.

Ultimately, the question of whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry depends on the interpretation of the majority of Justices in the U.S. Supreme Court of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This amendment requires governments to treat people equally. Back in 1967 the High Court interpreted this amendment to give access for interracial couples to marry. In mid-2015, by the narrowist of majority, Justices used the same amendment to justify the marriage of same-sex couples. All it might take for access to same-sex marriages to end in all or much of the United States would be for a conservative U.S. President to nominate one or two "strict constructionist" Justices to the High Court and have their nomination(s) affirmed by the Senate.

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This topic concludes in the next essay

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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 active today.

  1. "American Values Atlas: 2015 LGBT Trends," Public Religion Research Institute, 2015-OCT-07, at:
  2. "Marriage," Gallup, 2015, at:
  3. "In U.S., 87% Approve of Black-White Marriage, vs. 4% in 1958," Gallup, 2013-JUL-25, at:

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How you may have arrived here:

Copyright © 2015 & 2016 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
First posted: 2015-OCT-31: Halloween and Samhain
Latest update: 2016-MAR-05
Author: B.A. Robinson
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