Meet the Press   |  March 24, 2013

Support for gay marriage shows significant rise

A Meet the Press panel of experts examines poll data reflecting majority support for gay marriage and the Supreme Court’s consideration of a crucial and relevant case.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and we're back with our roundtable. we'll get reaction to the gun debate. i want to talk about gay issue coming up before the supreme court this week in our roundtable here to discuss it. look at the polling ralph , ralph reed , about americans' views about same sex marriage and if we put it up here it's worth paying attention to. 58% support it in 2006 it was 36%. and the opposition is completely flipped. now 36% oppose it only and 58% oppose opposed it back in 2006 . is this country and therefore the supreme court poised to accept gay and lesbian marriage as true marriage equality ?

>> well, i wouldn't build a house on one poll. that same poll that everybody has made a big deal out of this week just a couple of months ago it was 51%/47% for same sex marriage and against, basically a jump ball. we have a poll in the last two weeks from quinnipiac university which shows that 47%/43%. on election day in the network exit poll 49%/46%.

>> hilary rosen --

>> it's clearly moved but the idea the american people are, you know, universally for same sex marriage is just not backed up.

>> one of the things you look at, hilary, the youth vote . those who supported that poll, 81% under 30 support marriage equality . where are we as the supreme court takes this up?

>> well, and another interesting part about the youth vote , unlike a lot of other issues that ralph works on, the evangelical yaut, according to alex lundry, mitt romney 's data analyst , over 60% of evangelical youth support gay marriage . this has taken over the tide. i think the supreme court as good citizens as they are, are really going to decide this case based on what's fair and right based on the constitution, which is, is there a rational reason to treat two sets of loving couples differently under the law?

>> david brooks , the country is divided. there are 41 states that either ban it or treat gay marriage as something different than tradition traditional marriage . does that matter?

>> yeah, but i think the trend -- i'm with hilary. the trend is amazing. has there ever been a society that's given complete equality to gays and lesbians until ours and currently western europe , no. this is a big, historic moment. the movement, i think, is overwhelming and gradual and almost irreversible. why has it happened? one, because a lot of brave gay and lesbian people had the courage to come out and people got to see them. second, because it became about marriage. it became about order, about having committed, long-term relationships which people conservative and liberal believe in. those two things have moved. the debate -- to me the only fear now is the court. the court overreaches and tries to impose a solution from the top and that sort of freezes and p polarizes the debate.

>> i want to get to you in just a second. i want to come back to you, ralph . david wrote back in 2003 , we looked at your column in 2003 , you wrote the following. the conservative court is not to banish gay people from making such commitments. it is to expect they make such commitments. we shouldn't just allow gay marriage . we should insist on gay marriage . what is your opposition to it?

>> well, i think the issue before the court and the issue before the american people , and they have, after all, voted in 31 state referendum initiatives for traditional marriage , only three have they voted the other way. so this thing tests very differently at the ballot box than it does in a poll. the issue before the country is, do we have a compelling interest in strengthening and supporting the durable, enduring, and uniquely complimentary and pro- creative union of a man and a woman.

>> you look at divorce rates --

>> the answer, that would be an argument for why we ought to strengthen it.

>> let me get e.j.'s reaction.

>> the reason why is it's better for children and all the social science shows that.

>> although the american --

>> academy of pediatrics disagrees.

>> and another came out the other way.

>> e.j., get in here.

>> the conservative argument is actually better for gay marriage than against it. i have a friend who has worked for a fairly conservative christian organization for a long time who said our problem isn't that gays and lesbians want to get married. it's that they're the only people who want to get married. now he was exaggerating to make a point. his point was that family breakdown among heterosexuals is a big deal , and that instead of arguing about gay marriage where we're talking about people who want to make a commitment to each other, we got together and said how can we figure out ways of strengthening the family? how can we figure out what economic forces are ripping the family apart. we can have a much more constructive conversation in the country and the second point i make is, you know, sometimes the supreme court issues rulings that are inherently divisive. the kcountry isn't ready yet. i thought that was what this case was going to be two, three, four years ago. i now think that if the court rules in favor of gay marriage , it is simply going where public opinion is going. 50% of republicans under 50 in that post-abc poll supported gay marriage .

>> here is another interesting point on the public sentiment which is the states that have legalized marriage, the public support for marriage is growing more rapidly than in other states. in a means that what they have found is that mayrried gay couples are just like other neighbors, caring about their families and their communities and their churches and their schools and the like. but ralph raises a point we cannot ignore. which is the rationale that the opposition is putting before the supreme court . the only difference between a gay couple and a married straight couple that gets benefits interest from the federal government is that one has accidental procreation. i think that would be a surprise to a lot of infertile heterosexual couples.