It was only two years ago that, for the first time, the share of Americans who think same-sex relations are morally acceptable grew larger than the share who condemned them—a first, and a breakthrough. Is same-sex marriage now at that point?
Maybe. Or, anyway, close. A unique data set going all the way back to 1988 finds that now, for the first time, more Americans support than oppose same-sex marriage.
I don’t actually think we’re there yet. Polls showing plurality support for SSM remain outliers. Most show the larger number are opposed: for example, this one shows 48-42 against.
Perhaps more significant: when you ask the question in what I think is the best way, offering the third option of civil unions, a lot of gay-marriage support shifts to CUs, with about a third of the public supporting each option. But that, too, represents a change. As recently as 2004, those opposing any legal recognition for gay couples outnumbered SSM supporters by two to one in many polls. (In 2008, Karlyn Bowman of the American Enterprise Institute published an excellent roundup.)
So, no, I don’t think gay marriage has attained true majority support. But gay relationships are there already. And, any way you slice it, the progress has been remarkable.
More: Here are two excellent scatterplots summarizing opinion on gay marriage. H/T Charles Franklin and HuffPo.