It was kind of a big deal when, in 2002, The New York Times became the first major newspaper in the country to publish notices of same-sex unions. But at the same time, it wasn’t. Because the realization quickly dawned that the heterosexual and gay couples’ stories published in their “Vows” pages were remarkably similar.
So, in a way, it’s not surprising to learn that according to new surveys, acceptance of same-sex unions is gaining support. The Washington Post reported yesterday that, “A bare majority of voters in Florida and Ohio, and nearly half in Virginia, support the right of same-sex couples to wed . . . The growing support is a sharp departure from eight years ago, when opposition to gay marriage was so widespread that it may have helped tip the scales in favor of President George W. Bush’s reelection . . . In Florida, 54 percent of voters think same-sex marriage should be legal, while 33 percent say it should be illegal.”
“In Ohio, 52 percent say it should be legal, while 37 percent say it should be illegal. In 2004, by contrast, nearly two-thirds of Ohio voters—62 percent—supported a constitutional amendment defining marriage as ‘only a union between one man and one woman.’ ”
That’s a pretty big swing in just eight years.
The Post also notes that age is a crucial factor: About two-thirds or more of those younger than 40 support legalizing gay marriage in each of the three states noted above.
It’s been clear for a while that an age-related shift of opinion was taking place. Four years ago, the Daily Beast reported on a poll that “found significant differences across generational lines. Essentially, the younger you are, the more likely you are to support same-sex marriage. About half of those aged 18 to 34 back marriage rights, compared to roughly four in 10 among those aged 35 to 64 and only about two in 10 among those 65 and older. The survey also detected a gender gap, with women more likely to support gay marriage than men, 44 percent to 34 percent. Differences by race appear less noteworthy: 40 percent of whites approve of gay marriage, compared to 37 percent of non-whites.”
Recently, however, polling results delineated by race are a bit more noteworthy. ABC News reported in May that a poll produced for them by Langer Research Associates found “that support for gay marriage has reached a new high among African-Americans in ABC/Post polls, up from four in 10 in recent surveys to 59 percent now.” (This was after President Obama’s May 9, 2012, announcement of his support for gay marriage.)
“Another result shows increasing exposure: Seventy-one percent of Americans now say they have a friend, family member or acquaintance who’s gay, up from 59 percent in 1998. People who know someone who’s gay are 20 points more likely than others to support gay marriage.”
“I do support gay marriage,” said Sam Jensen, a sophomore communications major. “I was personally raised to not see gay people any differently than heterosexuals. I feel that they have the same ability to love and care for their partner as anyone else.”
Erin Dugan, a junior Commerce major, says she supports gay marriage, but for different reasons: “I believed in limited government control, and social issues should be non-issues in politics. Private institutions like the church can be opposed, but the government should not be able to deny any right like marriage to any U.S. citizen.”
The article adds that, “Despite individual perceptions, the results of the Pew survey reveal that public support for gay marriage is at a tipping point, and the trend shows no signs of reversing.”
Sounds like The New York Times might want to add some extra pages to their “Vows” section.
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Lawrence Karol is a writer and editor who lives with his dog, Mike. He is a former Gourmet staffer and enjoys writing about design, food, travel and lots of other stuff. @WriteEditDream | Email Lawrence | TakePart.com