John M. Becker

Support for Marriage Equality 'Nearly Universal' Among College Freshmen

Filed By John M. Becker | October 28, 2014 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: gay marriage, marriage equality, Millennials, polling, same-sex marriage, statistics, survey, tipping point

survey.jpgSupport for marriage equality is so overwhelming among incoming college students that one prominent national opinion poll -- the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP)'s Freshmen Survey at UCLA -- isn't even going to bother asking about it anymore.

Professor Kevin Eagan, program director at CIRP, explains in a column on Huffington Post:

Since CIRP first started asking the question in 1997, a majority of incoming college students have agreed that same-sex couples have a legal right to marry; however, it is remarkable how strongly incoming students now endorse this position. The CIRP Freshman Survey last asked this question in 2012, and three-quarters of first-time, full-time students (75.1 percent) agreed that same-sex couples have a legal right to marry, and the data suggest that nearly all (91.1 percent) of students who identify as "liberal" or "far left" hold this view.

Support of same-sex marriage among "conservative" and "far right" students has increased more than 20 percentage points since the question first appeared on the CIRP Freshman Survey. A near majority (46.4 percent) of students who identify their political ideology as "conservative" or "far right" now agree that same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry.

The largest gains in support of same-sex marriage have been among incoming students who identify their political ideology as "middle-of-the-road." In 1997, a bare majority (51.5 percent) believed same-sex couples should be permitted to marry. By 2008, more than two-thirds (67.7 percent) felt similarly, and that figure jumped another 10 percentages points by 2012 with 78.9 percent of "middle-of-the-road" students supporting same-sex marriage.

Eagan notes that in addition to marriage equality, the vast majority of all first-time, full-time college students (83.3% in 2013) support adoption equality as well. He adds that conservatives who continue to espouse anti-equality views on LGBT civil rights issues "risk alienating this large bloc of potential voters."

Support for the freedom to marry is so widespread that CIRP isn't likely to even bother asking respondents about it after the year 2015. "[T]he data make clear," Eagan writes, "that support for same-sex marriage is nearly universal among entering college students."

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