The Republican Party suddenly turned its back on gay rights and acceptance.


Americans’ support for gay rights and acceptance of gay people has been one of the most stable trends in recent political history, and support for same-sex marriage has steadily increased from less than 30% in the mid-1990s to about 70% today — so strong that pollsters rarely even ask about it anymore.

But there is growing evidence that these gains have halted and even reversed somewhat as Republicans have moved, in some cases sharply, in the opposite direction.

Gallup recently proved this.

  • Republican support for same-sex marriage fell from a high of 55% in 2021 and 2022 to 49% in 2023 and now stands at 46%, a nine-point drop over the past two years.
  • During the same period, the percentage of Republicans who rate same-sex relationships as “morally acceptable” fell from 56% to 40%, a 16-point drop.

These are the biggest declines in Gallup’s decades-long history of surveying these issues.

In the past two years, since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015, Republican support for same-sex marriage has declined in just one year. Obergefell v. HodgesAnd the percentage of Republicans who approve of the morality of same-sex relationships is at its lowest since the ruling was handed down.

Importantly, this new data suggests that the decline seen in Gallup’s 2023 data was no coincidence, and it’s also not the only poll to suggest that these issues are causing Republican support to erode.

Another large-scale national poll conducted in recent months to examine these issues is the Public Religion Research Institute’s “American Values ​​Map.”

Republican support for same-sex marriage shows a more gradual decline, from 50% in 2020 and 49% in 2022 to 47% in 2023.

But it is,ObergefellOther indicators also point to declining Republican support for gay rights.

  • Thirty-four percent opposed allowing small business owners to refuse goods or services to gay people, down from a high of over 40 percent and the lowest figure since 2000. Obergefell.
  • Fifty-nine percent supported laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from employment, housing and public discrimination. That’s down from 66% in 2022 and also the lowest since 2023. Obergefell.

Some of these polls have shown a slight decline in support among Democrats on these questions — a four-point drop each in the questions asked by Gallup and less in the questions asked by PRRI — but most of the change has been on the political right, lowering support for each of these protections for gay Americans.

Overall, support for same-sex marriage has fallen two points from its all-time high in both surveys, to just under seven in 10 Americans, and the Gallup poll found that approval of same-sex relationships has fallen seven points to 64 percent.

As mentioned, there hasn’t been a lot of good data lately, so it’s worth seeing what else comes out.

But the decline makes logical sense. After all, its timing coincides with the Republican Party’s growing willingness to wage a culture war that often pits LGBTQ+ Americans against one another. Republicans have largely avoided talking about these issues since 2000.Obergefell — aware that their party had lost to them — but that is not the case today.

Think of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, “groomer” talk, efforts to remove certain books from libraries, and vocal conservative efforts to restrict care and rights for transgender people.

When these issues emerged in 2022, my Washington Post colleague Ellen McCarthy wrote about advocates’ concerns that these efforts would roll back years, even decades, of progress.

“That’s frightening.” [former Human Rights Campaign executive director Vic] Basil, speaking from the couch of his Chevy Chase apartment on a recent afternoon, is not the only longtime LGBTQ activist watching the comments with alarm.

“Devastating” was the word used by Hilary Rosen, the first lobbyist Basil hired for the Human Rights Campaign.

“It’s scary,” said Imani Woody, a longtime gay rights activist for black and older adults.

“It’s terrifying,” said Vivian Shapiro, a veteran activist and former co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign Fund, which raises money for the group.

“It makes me feel hopeless,” said Elizabeth Burch, executive director of the Human Rights Commission from 1995 to 2004. “We really, really had won the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Americans, and this is a hopeless setback.”

“The pendulum will eventually start to swing back,” Basile said, “but only God knows how long it will take for that to happen and how much damage it will cause in the meantime.”

Two years later, there’s evidence those fears were well-founded.



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