From the department of Unstoppable Forces and Immovable Objects: Not two weeks after the latest MTSU Poll results revealed that 62 percent of Tennesseans oppose allowing same-sex couples to marry legally, the results of a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released Monday afternoon show that a record-high 58 percent of Americans say just the opposite.
Tennessee is a nearly perfect mirror image of the country at large when it comes to same-sex marriage rights.
How did we get here? Well, as shown by the graph at the top of this post, Americans as a whole have been shifting toward support for same-sex marriage rights for the last decade. The country's attitudes on the matter have completely flipped in 10 years. (Spoiler Alert: This trend will continue. Same-sex marriage rights are inevitable, and coming faster than one could have imagined even a year ago. They are the Unstoppable Force in this equation.)
Meanwhile, Tennesseans have hardly budged — the Immovable Object.
“Tennesseans are basically standing still on the issue of gay marriage," Ken Blake, director of the MTSU Poll tells Pith. "Opposition has been around 60 percent — you know, up and down within the poll’s error margin typically — but it’s been holding steady around 60 percent opposed to gay marriage for as long as we’ve been doing the poll. These attitudes just really aren’t going anywhere in Tennessee.”
As Pither Betsy Phillips pointed out earlier this month: "Tennessee is today where the country was back in 1996 — at 28-percent support of gay marriage, governed by a dude named Bill, and desperately missing The Ramones."
In 2003, the Post reports, 37 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage rights, while 55 percent opposed them. An MTSU Poll that year found 80 percent of Tennesseans supporting equal housing rights for gays and lesbians, and 78 percent supporting equal employment rights, but only 30 percent same-sex marriage.
And now, even as politicians left and right are evolving on the issue, Tennessee is still pretty much where it was. As noted in the MTSU Poll release, a recent Pew survey shows that opposition to same-sex marriage is higher in Tennessee than just about anywhere else in the country. That's because the country is running away from us.
"Tennesseans are basically just standing still while the rest of the country is growing more tolerant toward gay marriage,” Blake says.