By Aaron Earls
Since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision requiring every state to recognize same-sex marriages, support for allowing those marriages has continued to grow—particularly among groups who traditionally were opposed.
At the same time, Americans vastly overestimate the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population—guessing 23 percent when the reality is closer to 4.
According to a new Pew Research study, support for same-sex marriage has reached its highest level in history, just two years from the landmark Supreme Court ruling.
Americans favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry a member of the same sex by a nearly 2-to-1 margin (62 percent to 32 percent).
As recently as 2010, more Americans opposed same-sex marriage (48 percent) than supported it (42 percent).
Many groups that previously have been broadly opposed are now closely divided, including African-Americans and younger white evangelicals.
Since 2015, black support of same-sex marriage has grown from 39 percent to 51 percent.
During the same time frame, younger white evangelicals have grown more supportive. Just over a year ago, only 29 percent of white evangelical millennials and Gen Xers backed same-sex marriage.
Today, that number has climbed to just under half—47 percent of younger white evangelicals support allowing gay and lesbian individuals to marry a member of the same sex.
Only around a quarter (26 percent) of white evangelicals who are baby boomers and members of the silent generation say they favor the unions. That’s virtually the same as it was in March 2016.
Meanwhile, Americans continue to assume the LGBT population is much higher than it actually is.
The most recent Gallup survey in 2016 found 4.1 percent of the American population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. That’s up slightly from the 3.5 percent who said the same in 2012.
In a different 2015 Gallup survey, however, only 9 percent of the American population rightly guessed the LGBT population is less than 5 percent.
On average, Americans estimate 23 percent of the nation’s population is LGBT, similar to 2011 when the average guess was 25 percent.
A third of Americans (33 percent) believe more than a quarter of their fellow citizens identify as LGBT.
The younger the adults and the less education they have, the more likely they are to estimate a higher percentage of LGBT Americans.
Among 18- to 29-year-olds, the average guess is 28 percent, while it’s 20 percent for those 65 and older.
The average estimate of those with a high school degree or less is 28 percent. Postgraduates guess 15 percent, the lowest average estimate of any demographic.
On average, women say 27 percent of the population is LGBT, while men’s average guess is 19 percent.
Estimates are similar among those who support same-sex marriage and those who oppose. The average guess among supporters is 25 percent. Among those who do not believe same-sex marriage should be valid, the average guess is 21 percent.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.