October 10th, 2014

xkcd 141010

The comic notes a curious inversion between the timing of legal and popular opinion trends for interracial marriage vs. same-sex marriage. In the 11 years since Massachusetts first legalized same-sex marriage, at no point have there been more people living in states where it’s legal than there are people who support its legality (although this may soon come to pass). This stands in stark contrast to interracial marriage, which was legal for the majority of the population for over 50 years, and for the whole country for 28 years, before it was approved of by the majority.

Note that poll questions are slightly different: “Do you approve of interracial marriage?” vs “Do you think same-sex marriage should be legal?” It could be argued that fewer people would approve of these marriages than would support legalizing them, which may explain part of the discrepancy. But there are more factors at work, the effects and relative importance of which are not clear.

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