Poll: 61 percent of young Republicans support same-sex marriage

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Young Republicans disagree with their elders and support marriage equality by a whopping 61 percent, according to a new Pew Research Poll.

The poll found a striking generation gap on the subject within the GOP’s ranks.  Sixty-one percent of Republicans ages 18 to 29 and voters who lean Republican in that age group favor legalizing same-sex marriage, Pew found.

Support for marriage equality drops to 43 percent among Republicans ages 30–49 and receives only 30 percent backing among those who are 50–64. Only 22 percent of Republicans over 65 support it.

In addition, the poll discovered that only 18 percent of Republicans under 30 agree with the statement, “More gay and lesbian couples raising children” is a bad thing for American society. Twenty-six percent said it’s a good thing.

The sea change over the issue among young Republicans was on display at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference, where a majority of participants were under 25: The issue of marriage equality was hardly mentioned.

Young Republicans’ support for same-sex marriage comes at a time when overall public opinion on the issue is rapidly changing. Pew found 54 percent of the public now favors allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. The represents a record high in Pew Research surveys.

A recent Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 59 percent of people nationally support marriage equality. Support is weakest in the South, where 46 percent favor marriage and the same percent oppose it.

The WAPO/ABC survey discovered that the majority of people living in some states that ban same-sex marriage believe that it should be legal.

While younger Republicans are in step with the times on the issue, the poll found overall that Democrats and Republicans remain on opposite sides of the issue. Sixty-nine percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents favor same-sex marriage compared with 39 percent Republicans and Republican leaners. Even Democrats 65 and older favor same-sex marriage by a margin of about two to one.