Surprise! The South is the only region that doesn’t reflect a historic rise to over half of Americans supporting gay marriage and adoption. To be fair, Georgia and its confederates have jumped 10 points to 41 percent. That’s so 10 years ago.
For the first time ever, more Americans are with us than against us. An average 53 percent support legal marriage rights for gay couples (chart) and 51 percent support gay rights including marriage and child adoption. A celebration of attitudes changing at lightning speed in a new USA Today/Gallup study of 10 polls in 10 years comes with a grain of salt for the South: You’re at least a decade behind the curve.
Everyone muttered a collective “Duh” when USA Today this week blasted “Gay marriage support strongest on the coasts” like it was a revelation.
Support was steady in New England, at 58%, a level now matched on the Pacific Coast, where support has increased by 9 points. The biggest increases were in the Plains states (by 15 points, to 47%), in the Great Lakes (by 12 points, to 50%) and in the mid-Atlantic region (by 11 points, to 57%).
We all know everything moves slower down here. Over the last decade, support remains not just lowest but slowest-growing across the South. But buck up: The Southeast’s improvement of 10 points to 41 percent stands above the Southwest, which only rose 7 points to 40 percent.
That’s still below the 2004 national average of 42 percent. You’d have to go back to 1996 for the nation to hover around the 40 percent mark where the South sits today.
And this is the moment when you stop and give thanks for living in Atlanta. A visible LGBT presence with a variety of gay people and places probably skew the whole region a little better in the polls than it would without us. Even if the mayor won’t, the Atlanta City Council shows us some marriage love. Of course, even Atlanta’s little blue islands floating in a sea of red state can barely score a “B” and most often get an “F” on equality.
What say you? Progress is progress, or get me out of here?
Graphic by USA Today