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Public opinion had swung strongly in favor of same-sex marriage

As same-sex marriage battles swept the courts, Americans’ support for marriage equality continued its dramatic growth.

A majority of the American public now supports same-sex marriage, which wasn’t true just a few years ago. Between 1996 and 2015, Gallup found support for same-sex marriage more than doubled, from 27 percent to 60 percent.

Gallup same-sex marriage Gallup

Although support is generally trending up among all age groups, Gallup also found the biggest support among younger generations.

same-sex marriage support by age

An April 2015 analysis from the Williams Institute, a think tank focused on LGBTQ issues, found support for same-sex marriage was rising in all 50 states and appeared to be rising more quickly in states that had legalized same-sex marriage.

Marriage equality advocates like Freedom to Marry are widely credited with helping build this support over the years — often by getting same-sex couples to simply come out of the closet to friends and family to show the world that their relationships are broadly the same as heterosexual couples’ relationships.

To LGBTQ groups, the generational gap and growing support across the board reinforced the belief that same-sex marriage rights at all levels of government were inevitable, especially as younger generations become increasingly involved in politics.

For the Supreme Court, rising support for marriage equality is an important consideration. Although the American judicial system is shielded from public opinion by design, the growing support signaled to the court that the general public is ready for a decision that validates same-sex marriage rights.

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