As the Supreme Court gears up to hear oral arguments in the two landmark same sex marriage cases on Tuesday and Wednesday, there is only one statistic that gay rights supporters need to read to restore your faith that change is coming to America.
Sixty-four percent of Evangelical millennials now support same sex marriage.
That's right, support for gay marriage has grown so dramatically across the board over the course of the decade that even Evangelical Christians – long considered some of the most staunch opponents of gay rights – now support marriage equality in increasing numbers.
Young people are ushering in a stunning change in public opinion on the issue of same sex marriage, and record levels of Americans now support this cause. According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 58% of Americans now support gay marriage, which marks a remarkable 26 percentage point jump in just nine years. The most sizeable support comes from 18-29 year olds, where 81% now believe gay marriage should be legal, an increase of 24 percentage points from 2004.
What's even more surprising is the increase in support for same sex marriage amongst Republicans. According to a survey of 16,000 Americans from Project Right Side, self-identified Republican support over the last nine years has grown by 18 percentage points to 33%, and among Republicans under 50, support has increased 17 points to 52%. White Evangelical Protestant support has grown 24 percentage points to 31%. Even Catholic support has grown by 19 percentage points, to a 59% high.
It is clear that America is changing quickly on this issue, and millennials are drivers of that change. Of course, that does not mean that the Supreme Court will come down on the side of same-sex marriage. The extent to which SCOTUS takes public opinion into consideration while making decisions is an age-old debate in legal circles. But gay marriage supporters can only hope that if 64% of Evangelical millennials now support same sex marriage, Justice Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice Roberts – seen as the two most important players in these cases – will come around too.