Long-Term Trends Favor Gay Marriage

| Tue May 8, 2012 9:30 AM EDT

Andrew Sullivan points out today that for the second year in a row a majority of Americans say they favor legalizing same-sex marriage. But the real news is in the long-term trend:

On a wide variety of issues related to gays, polling over the years has shown a consistent trend: although there are short-term ups and downs, over longer periods the public has become steadily more supportive of gay equality at the rate of about 1-2% per year. And the same is true here. Public opinion has shifted 23 points in 12 years.

The good news here is obvious: this is at the high end of the 1-2% range, and given that the national number is 50%, it means that there are plenty of states on the right edge of the bell curve where the number is 60% or higher. The bad news, such as it is, is that breakthrough progress probably won't come until about two-thirds of the country is on board with same-sex marriage. That's most likely still a decade away. There's a lot more work to be done.