African-Americans and Same-Sex Marriage

I wrote earlier about a Gallup poll dubiously showing an abrupt change in self-identification on the abortion issue. There’s also a new WaPo-ABC poll showing an even more dramatic change in African-American attitudes towards same-sex marriage:

Overall, 53 percent of Americans say gay marriage should be legal, hitting a high mark in support while showing a dramatic turnaround from just six years ago, when just 36 percent thought it should be legal. Thirty-nine percent, a new low, say gay marriage should be illegal.

The poll also finds that 59 percent of African Americans say they support same-sex marriage, up from an average of 41 percent in polls leading up to Obama’s announcement of his new position on the matter. Though statistically significant, it is a tentative result because of the relatively small sample of black voters in the poll.

Perhaps this finding is an outlier, but it’s a big enough shift that it might reflect some significant movement, even if it’s less than the numbers indicate.

Just last week at TNR John McWhorter expressed the hope that the president’s announcement of support for same-sex marriage would have a particular impact on his fellow African-Americans, if only because “he is no longer giving tacit approval to a prejudice in the African-American community that becomes more awkward and regrettable by the year.” Maybe it’s already happening.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.