Arc of history, still bending

ARC OF HISTORY, STILL BENDING…. In the past couple of months, there have been a couple of polls showing a majority of Americans, for the first time, supporting marriage equality of gays and lesbians. A new survey published by the Pew Research Center doesn’t show quite that much support for same-sex couples, but the results are encouraging anyway.

The bad news is, a 48% plurality in the poll opposed marriage equality, while 42% support it. But as Jay Bookman noted, “[I]f you look at the trend line, you can clearly see where this is headed.” From the Pew report:

“For the first time in 15 years of Pew Research Center polling, fewer than half oppose same-sex marriage.

The shift in opinion on same-sex marriage has been broad-based, occurring across many demographic, political and religious groups. Notably, pluralities of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics now favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally – the first time this has occurred in Pew Research Center surveys. Political independents are divided in their views of same-sex-marriage; in 2009, they opposed it by a wide margin.”

Looking just at Pew data, support has never been as high as it is now, and opposition has never been as low. American attitudes on marriage equality have changed steadily for many years, and the arc is bending towards justice.

What’s more, whether the right is prepared to accept this or not, they’re going to lose this fight. It always takes a while, but in time conservatives always lose fights over discrimination and civil rights. The Pew data makes this abundantly clear by noting the generation gap — older Americans are the only ones who are staunch opponents, and even within this age group, support for same-sex marriage has almost doubled over the last 15 years.

I don’t expect the right to just throw in the towel on this, but (1) winning elections by attacking gays is going to be a lot more difficult going forward; and (2) eventual victory is a matter of “when,” not “if.”

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.