For the first time in Pew Research Center surveys, there is as much strong support as strong opposition to gay marriage. In a survey conducted April 4-15, 22% say they “strongly” support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally; an identical percentage (22%) “strongly” opposes gay marriage. In 2008, there was about twice as much strong opposition to as strong support for gay marriage (30% vs. 14%).

In 2004, when the issue was widely thought to have increased turnout among socially conservative voters in several key states, 36% strongly opposed gay marriage while just 11% strongly favored it. (For more, see Andrew Kohut’s piece in the New York Times on the changing politics of gay marriage, “The Electorate Changes and Politics Follow,” April 16, 2012).

Overall, the public is divided on the issue: 47% favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, while 43% are opposed. In 2008, 39% favored and 51% opposed gay marriage, based on an average of polls conducted that year. In 2004, just 31% supported gay marriage, while nearly twice as many (60%) were opposed.

View our graphic to see how public opinion has changed on gay marriage since 2001. Read More

Russell Heimlich  is a former web developer at Pew Research Center.