Opposition to gay marriage down:

The Pew Reasearch Center says that opposition to gay marriage among Americans is now down to 51% from 63% in February 2004, during the backlash over the Massachusetts marriage decision. More importantly, strong opposition to gay marriage is down from 42% in 2004 to 28% now.

I don't put a lot of stock in these polls on gay marriage, for reasons I detailed in a column in October 2003. The results depend very much on the way the question is asked, including the choices offered to the respondent. Polls also rarely measure intensity, which seems higher on the side of those who oppose gay marriage, if the results in state constitutional amendments are any guide. Pre-election polls in the state constitutional ballot fights have systematically undercounted opposition to gay marriage among those who actually bother to vote.

The drop in opposition since early 2004 may also reflect nothing more than the fact that Americans are concentrating on other things right now (like Iraq and Medicare), and that opposition to gay marriage will return to its post-Goodridge ceiling if another significant court decision draws unfavorable attention to the issue.

But as a supporter of gay marriage, I'd rather have public opinion appearing to move in my direction than against it. In the past year we've seen two significant legislative victories for the recognition and protection of gay families, one in Connecticut (civil unions) and one in California, whose legislature became the first representative body in the country to approve full-fledged marriage for gay couples. Very soon, we are likely to have legislative majorities for gay marriage in a handful of states, backed by the public itself in those states.