A NEW survey has revealed that Americans are almost twice as likely to support same-sex marriage if they personally know someone who is gay.
And with more than 70 per cent of people saying they now know at least one person who is gay, support for marriage equality is has moved solidly in the majority.
“It is a sea change in attitude,” said Marist Institute Director, Lee Miringoff.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find an issue that has had a bigger shift in public opinion.”
The number of American adults who said they know someone who is gay has risen from 39 per cent in 1999 to 71 per cent today, while 52 per cent said they now know more gay people than a decade ago.
Among those who know a gay person, 61 per cent were in favour of same-sex marriage, but among those who didn’t have any personal experience of gay people support plummeted to just 36 per cent.
Young people between 18 and 29 were the most enthusiastic proponents of marriage equality with three quarters approving the move.
Overall, the survey of 1035 people found some 54 per cent of Americans now believed same-sex couples should be allowed to wed.
Miringoff said he expected to see increases in acceptance but that the poll showed that this topic transcended other political issues that came and went.
“This is really an attitudinal shift,” he said.
However, some still remain to be convinced of the merits of gay people marrying. Half of all people above 60 were in opposition while two thirds of Republican voters and three quarters of Tea Party supporters are against marriage equality.
Nineteen US states plus the District of Columbia now allow same-sex marriage, either due to referendums or court battles over the issue.