Support for gay marriage reaches all-time high, survey finds

    Seventy percent of Americans now support the right of same-sex couples to wed, according to a poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute.

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    Seventy percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, according to the 11th annual American Values Survey, the highest percentage recorded by a major national poll. The results, released Monday, found just 28 percent of respondents oppose the right of gay couples to wed.

    Approval crossed the political divide, with majorities of Democrats (80 percent) and independents (76 percent) supporting same-sex marriage, and 50 percent of Republicans, according to the poll conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) in partnership with the Brookings Institution.

    Most major religious denominations back marriage equality, too, including white mainline Protestants (79 percent), Hispanic Roman Catholics (78 percent), religious non-Christians (72 percent) Hispanic Protestants (68 percent), white Catholics (67 percent), Black Protestants (57 percent) and other Christian denominations (56 percent).

    Religiously unaffiliated Americans were the most supportive, with 90 percent endorsing same-sex marriage.

    White evangelicals stood out as the only denomination where a majority opposed same-sex marriage, 63 percent to 34 percent. Support decreased among this group, according to PRRI, which found 41 percent of white evangelicals supported gay marriage in a 2019 survey.

    Frederick Haynes, senior pastor at Friendship West Baptist Church, a Black megachurch in Dallas, said he’s not surprised by that last number. “White evangelicals have not valued justice and equality,” Haynes told NBC News. “Their definition of Christian is limited to a few ‘red meat’ issues. I mean, for them, racism is not a dealbreaker when it comes to supporting politicians.”

    “We don’t want to become the monster of intolerance and inequality that we’ve fought for 400 years,” he said. “I think justice and the humanity of all of God’s creations is a supreme value in the African American community, especially in the Christian community. When you marry that with the American value of equality, it becomes a no-brainer.”

    PPRI’s poll continues a trend of acceptance that has been growing for more than 30 years: In a University of Chicago poll from 1988, only 11 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage, with 68 percent opposing it. Proponents outnumbered opponents for the first time in 2009 — 49 percent to 46 percent — according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll.

    Those numbers continued to climb, especially after the Supreme Court enshrined the freedom of gay couples to marry nationwide in 2015’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling. One year later, a May 2016 Gallup poll found 61 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage, and 37 percent opposed it. This past June, a Gallup poll put support at 67 percent, matching a previous high measured in 2018.

    PRRI’s latest results represent a notable increase even from last year’s American Values Survey, when 62 percent of respondents said they supported same-sex marriage.