Within the past couple weeks, three separate national polls have been conducted on the issue of same-sex marriage. Interestingly, each of these three polls shows a decline in support for it. Both Ipsos/Reuters and Gallup conducted polls in early July — just days after the Supreme Court handed its ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Both polls found a slight decline in the percentage of Americans who support same-sex marriage as compared to previous polls that each firm conducted earlier this spring.
Additionally, a third poll by the AP found that only 42 percent of Americans support same sex marriage. This is a decline of 6 points from the organization’s last poll on the issue in April. It also found a significant increase in percentage of people — 59 percent in June vs. only 52 percent in April — who said wedding-related businesses with religious objections should be allowed to refuse service to gay and lesbian couples.
These findings are more significant than many observers realize. Historically, Supreme Court rulings tend legitimize certain policies in the eyes of the public — foror instance, good data from the General Social Survey (GSS) indicates that there were gains in support for legal abortion after the Roe v. Wade decision. It is interesting that support for same sex marriage did not increase in the days after the Obergefell decision.
Another interesting takeaway from the Associated Press poll is that many Americans remain undecided on the issue. When asked, “Do you favor, oppose, or neither favor nor oppose allowing same-sex couples to be legally married in your state?” 31 percent of respondents said that they neither support nor oppose same-sex marriage. Several previous AP polls report similar findings. This indicates that despite the Supreme Court’s ruling, a high percentage of Americans are still open to persuasion. Advocates of traditional marriage would do well to continue the flight.
— Michael J. New is a visiting professor of Economics at Ave Maria University and an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_J_New