Opinion: Majority support for gay marriage appears to stick


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I expressed some hope last month that a CNN poll showing that a slim majority of Americans support the right of gays and lesbians to marry finally signaled the inevitable shift in public opinion for which same-sex couples had been holding out. I noted, however, that such a rapid swing could be based on a statistical fluke as much as actual public opinion.

But a new Associated Press poll has produced nearly identical results: Fifty-two percent of respondents said the federal government should recognize same-sex marriages (again, I invite the more statistically inclined readers to comment on how poll wording can produce skewed results). The political implications for President Obama are obvious, a topic explored on the Sunday Op-Ed page by Harvard law professor Michael Klarman. Indeed, it seems as if political implications are what motivate the White House to toe the awkward line of supporting equality for everyone -- gays and lesbians included -- while saying some of us don’t deserve the right to marry.


Klarman is right to say that Obama’s support for the cause could indeed generate a conservative backlash (I’d add that it would also probably energize activists for marriage equality). But the president’s political future matters less than ending the indignity suffered by gay and lesbian couples. Plus, a growing majority of Americans are no longer on his side.

-- Paul Thornton