While the House of Representatives is busily trying to restrict reproductive rights and, most likely, fight for the Defense of Marriage Act, a new Pew survey shows that Americans are increasingly pro gay-marriage and slightly more in favor of legal abortion.
The most dramatic numbers are around gay marriage. In 1996, 65 percent of those surveyed opposed gay marriage; today, only 46 percent oppose it. The number in support has also gone up from last year, from 42 to 45 percent.
Opposition to abortion saw a slight uptick in 2009 for some reason, with the respondents being evenly divided on whether abortion should be legal or illegal in all or most cases. But, says Pew, "Support for legal abortion has recovered and now stands at about the same level as in 2008 (55% then, 54% today)."
Even more interesting: How independents have become dramatically more socially liberal, according to the survey.
Independents have become more supportive of both gay marriage and legal abortion since 2009. Roughly half of independents (51%) now favor same-sex marriage, up from 37% in 2009. And 58% of independents say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared with 47% in Pew Research Center surveys two years ago.
That's in contrast to the 34 percent of Republicans that support legal abortion. Two thirds of Democrats told Pew that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, itself not a particularly overwhelming number.
There is wide regional divergence: 59 percent of people living in the Northeast and 56 percent in the West support gay marriage — maybe because the world did not implode when states around them legalized it. Only 34 percent of Southerners and 40 percent of Midwesterners support gay marriage.