This year might bring the first-ever statewide vote in favor of marriage for same-sex couples — and for that you have your grandmother to thank. Why? Because contrary to conventional wisdom, Americans born in the 1940s have been changing their minds on the marriage issue faster than nearly any other age group. And they are in good company.
Some marriage advocates have posited that the mammoth growth our country has seen in support for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry has been primarily caused by younger, more accepting voters replacing older ones in the population. But new data released in our new report, The Big Shift, shows that this phenomenon only explains one quarter of the total movement since 2004, while 75% of the shift was caused by Americans of all ages — including your parents’ and grandparents’ generation — changing their minds.
By compiling data from 98 public surveys taken between 2004 and 2011, with a total of more than 128,000 responses, we were able to dig deeper into the question of exactly who has changed their position on marriage, and how quickly. The answers are stunning: support for marriage has risen at a rate of more than 2 points a year since the low point in 2004, gaining 16 points by 2011 — the most recent year for which we have numbers. Who moved the most quickly? Moderates, whose support went from 33% to 54% over that seven-year timeframe.