Poll: Evangelical Christians Becoming Less Opposed to Gay Marriage

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A man sells rainbow flags near The Stonewall Inn, on the eve of the LGBT Pride March, in the Greenwich Village section of New York City, June 24. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

NEW YORK — U.S. groups who traditionally have opposed same-sex marriage, including Republicans and white evangelical Christians, have become much less steadfast in their objections, according to a new Pew Research Center poll.

Sixty-two percent of U.S. respondents now approve of same-sex marriage, up from 57 percent when the Supreme Court legalized it in all 50 states two years ago and from 37 percent in 2007, according to the survey, which was released on Monday.

The survey found rising support for same-sex marriage across affiliations with political parties, race, and religion, with support strongest among younger Americans born after 1980 and Democrats. The survey of 2,504 people was conducted June 8 through 18.

Republicans were split on whether they approved or opposed same-sex marriage, with 48 percent against and 47 percent for, within the study's 3.5 percentage point margin of error for the group. That is a major shift from the 73 percent opposition a decade ago.

White evangelical Christians were the most opposed to same-sex marriage, with 35 percent approving it, but the support more than doubled from 14 percent a decade ago. Younger evangelicals were far more supportive, with 47 percent of those born since 1964 approving gay marriages, compared with 26 percent of their older counterparts.

"The generational divide among white evangelicals is especially interesting, with nearly half of the younger folk approving of gay marriage," said Nancy Ammerman, a professor of the sociology of religion at Boston University, who was not involved in the poll. "When their parents were that age, there was barely a visible white evangelical gay person to be found."

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