As cases go before Supreme Court, strong shift in support of same-sex marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing two cases this week that could have a significant impact on the future of gay rights.

The hearings come after a significant shift in support for same-sex marriage over the past ten years.

According to a 2004 NBC/WSJ poll, at the time, only 30 percent of Americans were in favor of gay marriage.

Several 2013 polls show more Americans now support same-sex marriage than oppose it.

"If you ask the average American today whether they're in favor of same sex marriage, you're more likely to get the answer yes,"said Indiana University Bloomington Sociology Professor Brian Powell.
"It keeps increasing in that direction about 2 to 2.5 percent every year."

The change is partially due to simple demographics -- the population is aging and around 80 percent of young adults support gay marriage.

But, experts say the substantial shift is also a result of more people knowing members of the gay community.

"As people have become more familiar with people who are gay and lesbian, they have more of a sense of how it impacts their lives and the lives around them."said St. Mary's College Associate Psychology Professor Catherine Pittman.

Folks who both oppose and support same-sex marriage are in Washington, D.C. this week protesting.

It's unclear how their viewpoints will impact the outcome of the two landmark cases, but the increase support of same-sex marriage may be an indication of the way the nation is going.

"The fact that public opinion is shifting would seem to me that even in states in which there still may be more opposition than support, we're going to be moving in the direction of same sex marriage," Powell said.

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