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Poll: Obama’s support for gay marriage has limited impact on US opinions

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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Nearly three months after President Obama came out in support of gay marriage, about half — 48 percent — of Americans support gay marriage, up from 39 percent in 2008, according to a new Pew Research poll.

However, this shift in American attitudes had little do with Obama’s announcement. Before Obama announced his support for gay marriage on May 9, 47 percent of Americans supported gay marriage. After the announcement, support for gay marriage only went up by one percentage point to 48 percent.

It’s more likely that his announcement rallied his base, according to Pew. In April, 59 percent of Democrats supported gay marriage. Now, after Obama’s announcement, 65 percent support it. Support among liberal Democrats jumped ten points to 83 percent.

“Attitudes have not shifted among any other segment of the public following Obama’s announcement, including younger Americans, who continue to back gay marriage at the same rate as before, and African Americans, who remain, on balance, opposed to gay marriage,” Pew notes.

According to Pew, increasing support for gay marriage is linked to changing public perceptions about homosexuality in general, views that change slowly.

“However, there has been a rise in support for gay marriage across many demographic groups, even those who have traditionally been the most opposed,” the survey reads.

This includes African Americans, 40 percent of whom support gay marriage, up from 26 percent in 2008, though the share of African Americans supporting gay marriage isn’t any higher now than it was before Obama made his announcement.

“A large portion of the growth in acceptance of gay marriage over the past two decades is the result of generational replacement — the arrival of younger, more supportive generations making up a larger share of the population,” notes Pew.

“But the pace of change in support for gay marriage has increased in recent years across generational lines. Millennials have consistently been the most supportive of gay marriage, but even here the share in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to marry has jumped from 54% to 63% since 2008. Similarly, support is up from 44% to 52% in Generation X,” the poll concludes.

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