Williams Institute: Support for marriage accelerates when state bans end

A new study released today by the Williams Institute at UCLA tracks how support for the freedom to marry grows much more rapidly in states where same-sex couples can marry than in states that continue to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. That is, once the citizens of a state begin to see same-sex couples in their local communities share in the freedom to marry, support for the movement increases. 

In recent weeks, some writers, reporters and opponents of the freedom to marry have posed the question of whether there will be a so-called "backlash" if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage for same-sex couples and ends marriage discrimination in the remaining 13 states. Today's report firmly debunks this notion of "backlash," demonstrating that public support only increases when all are free to marry in their state. 

Freedom to Marry founder and president Evan Wolfson explained today:

Today’s Williams Institute report confirms that marriage wins are a self-fulfilling engine of support: once the freedom to marry comes to a state, people see families helped and no one hurt, and support surges. The numbers solidly debunk opponents’ desperate efforts to conjure up the spectre of an impending ‘backlash’ and underscore the unfairness of depriving people in the remaining 13 states of the informed choice that the end to discrimination provides. Once the Supreme Court brings an end to the exclusion from marriage in the states still left out, we can expect support to grow rapidly there as well – a true win-win.

The report today also highlights the tremendous growth in support from across the country, showing how in recent years, when the number of states with the freedom to marry has expanded from six in 2012 to thirty-seven today, support has rapidly accelerated. Between 2012 and 2014, in fact, support grew at a remarkable 6.2% per year. 

The Williams Institute also features projections of support for the freedom to marry in 2016. If the growth continues at this pace, the study concludes, more than half of the 50 states will show super-majority support of 60% or higher for marriage between same-sex couples by 2016.  

"America is ready for the freedom to marry,” Evan Wolfson added today. "The Supreme Court can now do the right thing, knowing that not only history, but the public today, will vindicate a ruling to end marriage discrimination leaving no state and no family behind."

Read the full report here.