Support for same-sex marriage in America continues to grow in all sectors except among the most faithful weekly churchgoers, according to Gallup.
The latest polling shows a slight, one-point uptick from an already record high last year, from 70% to 71%. That means nearly three-fourths of Americans say they support legal same-sex marriage.
Demographers have said the change in American attitudes about same-sex marriage represents one of the most rapid shifts on any social issue in history.
Gallup first polled Americans about same-sex marriage in 1996 and found only of 27% supported it. It was not until 2011 that a majority of Americans supported same-sex unions. But by 2015, one month before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, public support for gay marriage reached 60%.
That support has continued to grow, reaching 70% last year and now 71%. The latest polling was conducted May 2-22.
Despite the current reality of legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, religious conservatives continue to denounce it, along with any support or recognition for the LGBTQ community. Just this week, a small firestorm erupted in the Southern Baptist Convention because an independent, public company hired to investigate claims of sexual abuse put out a tweet in support of its LGBTQ employees for Pride Month.
Gallup’s report described weekly churchgoers are “the final holdouts of opposition” to same-sex marriage.
“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,” the report said. “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.” Previous research has shown a correlation between more conservative beliefs and greater likelihood of attending church weekly.
Those who say they attend church “almost weekly” or monthly more closely resemble average American attitudes, with 70% supporting same-sex marriage.
However, another research firm recently reported growing support for same-sex marriage among an unlikely group of conservative churchgoers, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Public Religion Research Institute this year found “support is growing exponentially among Latter-day Saints. The church has formally supported several legal challenges to same-sex marriage, including Proposition 8, which attempted to ban same-sex marriage in California in 2008, and urging Latter-day Saints to fight against same-sex marriage in 2016. However, newly released data … suggests that members are increasingly finding themselves at odds with the church’s stance.”
In fact, support for same-sex marriage among Mormons is 6 points higher than Gallup’s reported number for weekly church attenders, at 46%. And it’s even higher (52% and 54%) among younger and politically independent Latter-day Saints.
Further, the gap between Mormon attitudes and overall American attitudes on same-sex marriage is shrinking, PRRI said. The current 22-point gap between Mormons who support gay marriage and overall American support has shrunk by 5 points since 2014.
“Given the sharp increases in support for same-sex marriage generally, the nearly doubling support among the most conservative Latter-day Saints, and the majority support among younger Latter-day Saints, it is clear that Latter-day Saints are becoming increasingly more supportive of same-sex marriage, despite messaging from church leaders,” PRRI noted. “Given these trends, it seems highly likely that a large majority of Latter-day Saints will support same-sex marriage in the not-too-distant future.”