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While searching for old polling data on the topic of marriage equality, I found Gallup's marriage page, and right below the data for same-sex marriage are the numbers for the question Do you approve or disapprove of marriage between blacks and whites?

Well, there's an obvious comparison to look at here, isn't there? (And being obvious, I'm not the first to think of it, either.)

Here's what that comparison looks like:

Support for marriage equality has increased at roughly the same rate as support for marriage between blacks and whites.
One of the interesting things to see is that the longterm rate of change is roughly similar for both questions.

Please read below the fold for more on this story.

Another obvious point is that while the Supreme Court was way out in front of public opinion with Loving v. Virginia in 1967, decided when the public's net support of interracial marriage was about -60, the Supreme Court is really dragging its feet on same-sex marriage, which is currently at a net support level of +19 and rising.

But that's not what really grabbed my attention.

No, what really shocked me was that as late as 1983, 50 percent of respondents said they disapproved of marriage between blacks and whites. And even in 1994 - 1994 fer crissakes! - only 48 percent said they approved.

I would have thought that this was a long-settled question. Fortunately, however, I looked at the data before opening my mouth on the subject in public and making an ass of myself (and that's the most charitable interpretation). If asked, I would have guessed net support for interracial marriage shot up to +60 by the mid-'80s and stayed there ever since. Talk about being wrong.

It turns out that incorrectly estimating public opinion is fairly common, however. In the recent PRRI poll focusing on same-sex marriage, only 34 percent of respondents correctly understand that Americans overall are mostly in favor of same-sex marriage. Among those who oppose same-sex marriage, only 21 percent understand this fact. And when asked whether federal law allows discrimination against LGBT individuals in the workplace, only 15 percent correctly say that it does.

Interestingly, there is also a very strong link between what we think our friends think and what our opinion of same-sex marriage is. Eighty-seven percent of those who think most of their friends support same-sex marriage support it themselves. Even among Republicans, 78 percent of those who say most of their friends support same-sex marriage are in favor themselves. Whether we're more likely to think our friends support what we support, or whether we're more likely to support what we think our friends support, there's a clear social component to public opinion visible in this poll.

The question is, what do Justice Kennedy's friends think?

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 06:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kossacks for Marriage Equality and LGBT Rights are Human Rights.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'm actually somewhat shocked (14+ / 0-)

    that there was a point when net support for marriage between blacks and whites was something like -95.

    29, white male, TX-07 (current), TN-09 (born), TN-08 (where parents live now)

    by TDDVandy on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 06:05:16 PM PDT

  •  the slope of the line (9+ / 0-)

    in mathematical terms

    is known as "the arc of justice"

    Noteworthy, it takes about a generation to accept the extraordinary as commonplace

  •  Neatly done, diarist (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BMScott, GAS, bethcf4p, Chas 981

    (Where's your Tip Jar???)

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 06:17:16 PM PDT

  •  But what about gay interracial? (3+ / 0-)

    Okay, I'm kidding. I just like to see where the fundies are still objecting.

    "Bob Johnson doesn't have special privileges, because really, why would I entrust that guy with ANYTHING?" - kos, November 9, 2013

    by Bob Johnson on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 06:17:38 PM PDT

    •  Gay interracial atheists, of course. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rocksout, Oh Mary Oh

      There was only one joker in L.A. sensitive enough to wear that scent...and I had to find out who he was!

      by virginislandsguy on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 09:01:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Amazingly... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LuvSet, Oh Mary Oh interracial doesn't seem to be an issue.

      A couple years back, a minor controversy erupted when Archie comics introduced their first gay character, and another minor controversy when they gave that character his own book for when he got married.

      When I saw a copy of the cover of that comic book, one thing that struck me was that the two guys getting married were a black-white interracial couple -- and no one had even commented on that aspect of it.

      Progress can be agonizingly slow, but we really are moving ahead.

      Political Compass: -6.75, -3.08

      by TexasTom on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 10:01:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  In another generation's time (6+ / 0-)

    we may be able to say, "there was a time when you didn't have money, you couldn't see a doctor"  and the kids will look at us incredulously and think we are making it all up.

  •  creating families (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SpaK, Oh Mary Oh

    All people, even the religious wingnuts, know the power of families. It is harder to discriminate if there is not good separation between the groups you need to discriminate against, and those you don't.

    I often wonder if the Emmit Till case might have been different if there had been a white lawyer that had married into the family.

    Right now many churches are attacking homosexuals to encourage contributions from their members.  It is a good racket.

    Marriage will validate the right of all couples to raise children.  This a the basic purpose of humans, and the heroes who take on this role are above all others.  This scares the wingnuts to death.

  •  Was shocked too at the 1994 numbers until (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skrekk, Oh Mary Oh

    I then remember a conversation I had in 1999 with a friend. We were discussing politics, but I told him something along the following lines "when you see all those teenagers and twenty year olds spitting on the kids trying to intergrate school in the 1960's, well they're all only in their 50's-60's now they're not dead from old age". I think we sometime think of the black and white TV footage of the 50, 60, and (although in color) 70's as a long long time ago, until we remember that a large number of those folks are still alive.

    Yes the politicians from that era may be gone (but polls are usually 20-30 years older than the average population) but their voters are not.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)! Follow on Twitter @dopper0189

    by dopper0189 on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 02:19:38 AM PDT

  •  Regarding the diarist's shock at the mixed-race (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    marriage polling data, the Onion said it best in some news from the future:

    DECATUR, IL, THE YEAR 2083—According to students in Mr. Bernard's fourth-period U.S. history class, it's "really pathetic" how long it took for early-21st-century Americans to finally legalize gay marriage.

    The classroom of 15-year-olds at MacArthur High School—all of whom were born in the late 2060s and grew up never questioning the obvious fact that homosexual couples deserve the right to get married—were reportedly "amazed" to learn in their Modern U.S. History: 2081 Edition textbooks that as late as the 2020s, gays and lesbians actually had to fight for the constitutional right to wed.

    "Wow, that is nuts," said student Jeremy Golliver, who claimed he knew gay rights was a struggle "like, a hundred years ago" but didn't realize it lasted so long. "It's really embarrassing, when you think about it. Just the fact that people in this century were actually saying things like, 'No, gays should not be allowed to marry,' and were getting all up in arms about it, as if homosexuals weren't full citizens or something. It's insane."

    "I mean, was everybody just a huge bigot back then or what?" Golliver added.

  •  For me, the worst part (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    is that the interracial line is still only at <80%

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Tue Apr 01, 2014 at 12:03:07 PM PDT

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