HOUSTON (CBS HOUSTON) — Support for same-sex marriages is rapidly gaining support despite large disparities on the issue between certain regions of the country.
Across four Pew Research Center surveys this year, 48 percent of Americans say they favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 43 percent are opposed. Just four years ago, in the 2008 election cycle, 51 percent opposed making same-sex marriages legal and 39 percent supported it.
The steep recent trend has continued over the course of 2012. The most recent survey, conducted just two weeks before the election, found nearly half (49 percent) of Americans are in favor of allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while opposition has fallen to an all-time low of 40 percent.
However, different regions of the country show wide disparities in attitudes about same-sex marriage. States that approved measures this week are all in regions generally supportive of allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. Other parts of the country are not as supportive.
People in the South express greater opposition. A majority (56 percent) in the central Southern states such as Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas oppose same-sex marriage, while about a third (35 percent) favors it. The divide is more narrow in the South Atlantic states such as Florida, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas (48 percent oppose, 42 percent favor).
In New England, 62 percent favor same-sex marriage, while 29 percent oppose it. In the mid-Atlantic, 57 percent favor and 34 percent oppose allowing gay marriage. Opinions among those on the Pacific Coast are similar (54 percent favor and 37 percent oppose).
In the Midwest, which includes Minnesota, opinion is more evenly divided (46 percent favor, 44 percent oppose). Voters in Minnesota did not approve gay marriage, but did vote to keep the ban from becoming part of the state’s constitution.
The trend toward increased support for gay marriage is evident across all regions. In each, the percentage that currently favors allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally is far higher than it was a decade ago.