Apr 28, 2012 12:25 AM GMT
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.