Support for gay marriage has shot up in the US with over half of Americans now in favor.
A survey by the non-partisan Public Religion Research Institute released today (26 February) shows some 53% of 4,509 Americans support same-sex weddings, compared to 32% in 2003.
The Supreme Court ruled in June 2013 the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, meaning legally married gay couples were eligible for federal benefits and inspiring LGBTI rights activists to continue fighting for same-sex marriage across the country.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia.
The survey also found fewer Americans that describe themselves as religious oppose gay marriage.
Jews were its biggest supporters with 83% positive feedback, followed by 58% of white Roman Catholics and 56% of Hispanic Catholics. Some 46% of Hispanic Protestants favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.
As a major factor in leaving their childhood religion, negative attitude towards gay couples was quoted by 31% of people aged 18 to 33.
Almost 73% of secular Americans favor the right of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally in the country.
‘This new research provides further evidence that negative teachings on this issue have hurt churches’ ability to attract and retain young people,’ said Robert Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute, according to Reuters.
‘Nearly one-third of Millennials who left their childhood religion say unfavorable church teachings about or treatment of gay and lesbian people played a significant role in their decision to head for the exit.’’
Attorney General Eric Holder has said state attorneys general are not obliged to defend laws banning same-sex marriage in their states if they don’t believe these laws are constitutional.
‘In general, I believe we must be suspicious of legal classifications based solely on sexual orientation,’ Holder told the New York Times.
In six states – California, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Virginia – attorneys general have declined to defend same-sex marriage bans against lawsuits filed by gay couples.