It seems like just yesterday when anti-gay measures were approved in states across the country, riling the conservative base and helping George W. Bush win reelection. But the tide is shifting, and a new poll shows that, for the first time, a majority of Americans are now in favor of gay marriage.
The survey conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News finds 53 percent of those surveyed support homosexual rights to marriage compared to 44 percent who were opposed. Just five years ago a poll taken by the same organizations showed just 36 percent supported gay marriage. Other polls find (PDF) similar movement. And those feeling strongly in support of gay marriage have now equaled those passionate in opposition; according to the poll, 35 percent were in the former camp, 36 percent in the latter.
Public opinion is an important thing on civil rights issues. After surveys showed as many as 80 percent of Americans in favor of repealing the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, Congress and President Obama eventually acted. And the new poll showing public support for gay marriage comes after another step in the right direction: the Obama administration announced plans to cease its defense of the Defense of Marraige Act, the 1996 law that defined marriage between a man and a woman. The next time gay marriage is on the ballot, it could benefit the politicians who support gay rights, not the other way around.