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Americans increasingly in favor of gay marriage, gun rights

April 26, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • Same-sex marriage supporters rally with a speaker and members of Love Honor Cherish and West Hollywood officials at a rally and march in celebration of today's appellate panel ruling striking down Proposition 8 in West Hollywood.
Same-sex marriage supporters rally with a speaker and members of Love Honor… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

More Americans are in favor of gay marriage, and more place the importance of gun owner rights above gun control, according to a new Pew Research Center poll. While support for gay marriage and gun owners is on the rise, that increase is one that bodes well for opposite ends of the political spectrum, providing mixed signals to those still complacent with the established social standards of the past decade and beyond. The question is, what does it mean for this year’s elections?

The poll’s findings indicate landmark shifts in opinion for both issues, marking the culmination of trends that have built up over the past several years. Currently, 49% of Americans believe it’s more important to protect the rights of gun owners, and 47% are in favor of legalizing gay marriage. Though neither are a majority,  those in favor of both policies outnumber those against, with 45% placing gun control above gun ownership and 43% in opposition to gay marriage.

Including data since 2003, opposition to gay marriage reached its peak in 2004, as the topic reached the forefront of the year’s campaigns, with state amendments and the possibility of constitutional prohibition building steam. But public opinion has shifted significantly, most particularly in regard to those strongly in favor and against gay marriage.

Strong opposition, ever since its peak of 38% in December 2004, had fluctuated around 30% until 2010, when it began its slow descent to its current 22%. Strong support, which was as low as 8% in 2004, has risen to equal the opposition at 22%.

The percentage drop in the opposition of gay marriage was conveniently equal in both those under the age of 30 and those at or above the age of 65, at 18%, though 56% of the older generation still are against it, compared to just 30% of their younger counterparts.

Stretching back to 1993, Pew has found a consistently sizeable plurality, if not majority, of Americans placed more importance on gun ownership, peaking at 66% in 2000. Since then, that number has seen a steady decline, hitting 49% both in 2012 and 2011.

That said, what does this shift mean for the upcoming elections? Obviously the sentiments of Americans are changing, but the implications of those changes look to be incremental in influencing the electoral results. An earlier Pew poll found that 28% place gay marriage as “very important” to their vote, and 47% gave gun control the same weight. As has been said before, and will be said again before the polls close, it’s economy that trumps all matters, regardless of the changing tides toward gun-owning gay couples.

Pew’s survey was conducted via telephone interviews among 3,0008 adults nationwide between April 4-15, with a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9-3.0%.

morgan.little@latimes.com

Original source: Americans increasingly in favor of gay marriage, gun rights

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