Since President Obama announced his support of gay marriage last week the pundits have gone into overdrive. Some are saying this could spell the end to his presidency, while others are saying it shows he embraces a future. A new poll out by CBS sheds a little bit of light into this:
A new CBS News/New York Times Poll shows a solid majority of Americans support legal recognition for same-sex couples - though not necessarily through the official act of marriage - and the number of people who do support full marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples is significantly higher among younger generations.
Overall, 38 percent of those who responded to the survey said same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, just like any other couple. Another 24 percent said civil unions should be used to grant same-sex couples legal rights similar to male-female partnerships. Combined, that means 62 percent - close to two thirds - of Americans believe that same-sex unions should be recognized by law.
Of all those who participated, 33 percent said there should be no legal recognition for same-sex couples.
What's really interesting is when you look at how public opinion has changed over the years:
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There has been a pretty big swing in support over the past six years, so more Americans are starting to come around and accept gay marriage. But a lot of this actually seems to becoming from the younger generation. Check out this break down by demographics:
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The last section is what really stands out. By more than 2-1 we see those aged 18-44 supporting gay marriage over those 45+. That shows that our societies thinking is rapidly evolving on the issue and eventually gay marriage will be accepted. This could also be compared to civil rights in the 60s, when the older generations were against them, while the younger generations strongly supported them. This is how a society grows, evolves and matures to adapt to the times.
So will this become a third rail for Barack Obama this election season? It's really hard to tell. In all honesty it could be. We could see Obama's support of gay marriage become a key issue that fires up the right wing base and pushes more out to the polls, but it could also fire up a key electorate for Obama and get them out this November. That key electorate is the younger vote. If that happens then Obama could end up seeing an advantage from his announcement.