Monday numbers: A closer look at fast-evolving public attitudes toward marriage equality

Monday numbers: A closer look at fast-evolving public attitudes toward marriage equality

In 2012 North Carolina was the last U.S. state to ban same-sex marriage through a statewide referendum. In 2015, more than a decade after Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to legalize it, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges established marriage equality for same-sex couples as a constitutional right.

Today there are more than a 700,000 married same-sex households in America, according to U.S. census data. But in June, when a new conservative majority on the nation’s highest court overturned Roe v. Wade, many of those households were given good reason to worry the court will move beyond abortion to rescind federal protections for their marriages.

“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this court’s substantive due process precedents,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his concurring opinion in the overturning of Roe. “Including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell.”

The 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut established a married couple’s right to use contraception. Lawrence v. Texas made state laws against sodomy, used to target LGBTQ people, unconstitutional in 2003. Obergefell, the most recent of the three precedents, is by far the largest target for conservatives.

As Congress considers a federal law to protect the right of same-sex couples to marry, new data released last month by the Meredith College Poll suggests a strong majority of North Carolinians oppose ending same-sex marriage protections.

This week, a by-the-numbers look at North Carolina’s views on same-sex marriage and the hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians who could be impacted if it loses federal protection.

(Sources: Meredith College Poll, U.S. Census Data, LGBTQ demographic information from The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, The Gallup Daily Tracking survey)

61 – Percentage of voters who approved North Carolina’s Amendment One by statewide referendum in 2012, making same-sex marriage illegal in the state

35 – Percentage of voter turnout, statewide, in the primary election in which that referendum was included

56 – Percentage of respondents in last month’s Meredith Poll who said they favor a federal law protecting the rights of same-sex couples to marry

“It is amazing that in a ten-year period, from the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina by a 61-39% vote, that public opinion has completely changed on same sex marriage,” said David McLennan, director of the poll, in a statement released with the results. “More North Carolinians now accept this as a normal part of society.”

78 – Percentage of self-identified Democratic respondents who said they would support such a federal law

33 – Percentage of self-identified Republican respondents who said they would support such a federal law

59 – Percentage of self-identified unaffiliated respondents who said they would support such a law

41 – Percentage of respondents who identified as some “other” political affiliation who said they would support such a law (though Libertarians have a place on the ballot in North Carolina, they were not specifically identified in the poll)

70 – Percentage of respondents between the ages of 18-24 who said they would support such a law

65 – Percentage of respondents between the ages of 25-40 who said they would support such a law

53 – Percentage of respondents between the ages of 57-75 who said they would support such a law

50 – Percentage of respondents over 76 who said they would support such a law

711,000 – The number of same-sex married couples in the U.S. as of 2020 (Source: U.S. Census data)

382,000 – The number of LGBTQ people in North Carolina as of 2020 (Source: Data from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law)

26 – The percentage of LGBTQ people in North Carolina raising children as of 2020, according to the same data