On Sunday, conservative columnist George Will, observing the apparent shift in public opinion in favor of gay marriage over the past decade, noted that as the oldest segment of the population dies, with them go much of the nation’s opposition to same-sex marriage.
“There is something like an emerging consensus . . . Quite literally, the opposition to gay marriage is dying. It’s old people,” said Will on ABC News’s “This Week.”
“Look in Salt Lake City, the 12 Apostles. The Mormon Church after the election says, well, ‘Maybe we’re going to change our position on homosexuality is a choice. You’re not born that way . . . I mean, the effects of an election reverberate all the way through society.”
According to a recent ABC News-Washington Post poll, 51 percent of Americans support gay marriage. Similarly, a recent Pew poll found that 48 percent of Americans support gay marriage, up from 35 percent in 2001.
The stark difference in opinion between generations on the same-sex issue, which Will addresses, is illustrated in a November poll that found 73 percent of Americans between 18 and 29 years of age supported gay marriage, while in contrast, only 39 percent of Americans above 65 years of age supported the measure.
A similar division also existed between political parties according to Gallup, which found that 73 percent of Democrats believed gay marriage should be legal whereas only 30 percent of Republicans believed the same.
On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear two cases challenging state and federal laws that define marriage as a union only between a man and a woman.
The first case, a challenge to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision to strike down the state constitutional amendment known as Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California. In November, 2008, the state’s residents voted 52 to 48 in favor of Prop 8.
The second case involves the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the federal law that prevents gay couples which have been legally married in states where same-sex marriage is legal from being recognized under federal law.
Presently, nine U.S. states legally recognize gay marriage, while 37 states have laws or provisions that exclusively define marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
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