The majority of Americans support marriage equality for the first time

Yesterday, The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan took a look at the 2010 edition of the General Social Survey, and wrote, “I’m proud to say [marriage equality] must represent one of the most successful political, social and cultural movements in history.” Encouraging words made even sweeter when you pair them with the graph constructed by sociologist Darren Sherkat of Southern Illinois University.

Here’s the query: Same-sex couples should be allowed to get married. Do you agree or disagree?

General Social Survey has been asking the question since 1988 — longer that any other scientific survey group — and for the first time in history, Americans who support marriage equality outnumber Americans who do not. There has been a dramatic shift in public opinion in the last two decades, but the most encouraging thing of all is that support for marriage equality jumped seven points in only the last two years. (It’s even more striking when you consider that opposition to marriage equality also fell seven points.)

The Daily Intelligencer put it like this, “Gay marriage support is like one of those stocks you should have bought twenty years ago.”

Public opinion is a tricky business. Political scientists study it. So do sociologists. And giant corporations and professional sports teams and Hollywood studios. You can’t get elected without popular public opinion. You can’t even sell soap without popular public opinion. And hardly any person or any social movement — from politicians to movie stars to companies to causes — is able to harness and wrangle public opinion to get more and more and more popular.

Not Starbucks stock prices.

Not Sandra Bullock’s Rotten Tomatoes rating.

Not President Obama’s approval rating.

Not even America’s best sweetheart, Ellen DeGeneres’, can always be Google popular.

And that means marriage equality wins. And it’s going to keep winning. It’s good to be on the right side of history, but it’s even better to be on the right side of right now.

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