Nate Silver: We'll Have Gay Marriage Before 2020

Support has been rising steadily for 9 years, he finds

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 27, 2013 12:34 AM CDT

(Newser) – The second of two landmark gay rights cases is before the Supreme Court today, but supporters of marriage equality can take heart even if the decisions don't go their way, says New York Times stats whiz Nate Silver. Support for gay marriage hasn't surged recently, he finds, but it has been steadily increasing since around 2004 and supporters are almost certain to be in the majority nationwide soon. Gay marriage would probably have lost in a national referendum last year, but would narrowly win in 2016, according to Silver's projections.

The steady rise in support means ballot initiatives to legalize gay marriage would succeed in 32 states by 2016 and in 44 states by 2020, with support above 48% in every state except Alabama and Mississippi, Silver projects. It is "the steadiness of the trend that makes same-sex marriage virtually unique among all major public policy issues, and which might give its supporters more confidence that the numbers will continue to break their way regardless of what the Supreme Court decides," he writes. (Click for Silver's full column.) Bill O'Reilly is also surveying the landscape, and Politico reports that he agrees that the wind is at the back of gay marriage advocates: "The compelling argument is on the side of homosexuals," he said on his show last night; they "just want to be treated like everybody else. The other side hasn’t been able to do anything but thump the Bible."

Billy Bradford of Castro Valley, Calif., waves a pair of flags outside San Francisco City Hall while same-sex couple line up to see if they can be married in San Francisco, Thursday, August 12, 2010.
Billy Bradford of Castro Valley, Calif., waves a pair of flags outside San Francisco City Hall while same-sex couple line up to see if they can be married in San Francisco, Thursday, August 12, 2010.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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One no longer needs to make optimistic assumptions to conclude that same-sex marriage supporters will probably soon constitute a national majority. - Nate Silver, New York Times

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