There’s a tsunami, and it isn’t in Japan.
I’ve been blogging for a few months on a series of polls showing increases in support for gay marriage and gay equality. (Here…and here…and here.) They all point in the same direction, and they show such rapid change that, especially at first, I was cautious about taking them at face value, especially when they found majorities for same-sex marriage.
Now comes yet another. And it is as stunning as the others. This is from Gallup, which has asked for years whether gay and lesbian relations are “morally acceptable” or “morally wrong.” In my opinion, this is the single most important polling question on gay rights, because moral disapproval lies at the heart of anti-gay discrimination and animus. As I argued here, when moral disapproval falls below a certain critical mass, the whole superstructure of discrimination will eventually topple with it.
So…in 2011, 56 percent say gay relations are morally acceptable, up four points since just a year ago, and up seven points from just a year before that. Disapproval is down to 39 percent, just over a third of the public. As Gallup’s chart shows, in the past ten years the approval/disapproval contingents have traded places. In other words, our side is where their side was just a decade ago!
And, no, it’s not a fluke. Pew has 58 percent saying that homosexuality should be accepted by society.
Gallup headlines another result (same survey), which strikes me as less important but still interesting: 64 percent say gay or lesbian relations between consenting adults should be legal, the highest in the 30 years since the question was first asked.
Political polls bob up and down, but never in my career of covering politics and society have I seen such rapid movement of public opinion on a core social values. But I think one must bow before the accumulating evidence and say this: we are at a Berlin Wall moment in gay-straight relations. Right now.
We’ve won. It’s all over but the shouting. Now, there will be a lot of shouting, and some of it will matter. But there will be no going back. History has happened.
More: But…an important cautionary note from Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune. Change in public opinion does not mean the Republicans change their steadfast opposition any time soon. Money quote:
In fact, there is every reason to think that for the foreseeable future, the GOP will continue to reject gay rights — and there are ample grounds, alas, to think it can do so without any real political penalty.