Gay Marriage in the U.S., After Obergefell v. Hodges

The historic Supreme Court ruling led to a surge in same-sex marriages in all 50 states, polls show.

Natalie Novoa, left, kisses her wife Eddie Daniels at a celebration rally after getting married in California, on June 26, 2015.  (Lucy Nicholson / Reuters)

In the one year since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage nationwide, the number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and trans individuals married to a same-sex spouse has increased 22 percent.

A new Gallup poll released Wednesday estimates about 9.6 percent of LGBT adults are currently married to a same-sex spouse, up from 7.9 percent before the landmark court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges last June. Gallup estimates about 123,000 same-sex marriages have taken place since the ruling:

Gallup currently estimates 3.9% of U.S. adults are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, and 0.4% of U.S. adults are married to a same-sex spouse. These figures can be used to estimate there are approximately 981,000 U.S. adults in a same-sex marriage and, thus, 491,000 same-sex marriages in the U.S. That latter estimate is up from roughly 368,000 a year ago.

At the time of the historic decision last year, gay marriage was already legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia. The Court’s decision struck down prohibitions in the remaining 13 states. Gallup reports the rate of same-sex marriage has grown in all states since, and significantly in those 13 states.

Before the ruling, 26 percent of same-sex couples living in states where gay marriage was illegal reported being married anyway; after the ruling, that number increased to 39 percent. Before the ruling, 42 percent of same-sex couples living in states where gay marriage was legal reported being married; after, the number rose to 52 percent.

The Gallup survey was based on telephone interviews, conducted throughout 2015 and 2016, with a random sample of U.S. adults 18 or older in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The poll has a margin of error of between 1 and 2 percentage points.

Gallup’s data suggests the growth that followed the ruling may level off soon:

The Obergefell v. Hodges ruling appears to have provided the impetus for an initial surge in same-sex marriages, but that surge only lasted a short while. Going forward, as the nation moves further away in time from that June 2015 decision, increases in the same-sex marriage rate may be more evident in the long term rather than in the short term.

This is especially likely given that the U.S. LGBT population is decidedly young, and many who one day want to marry a same-sex spouse are not currently at a point in their lives when they are likely to seriously consider marriage.

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the decisive case, told the Washington Blade earlier this month “the thing that I have loved over the past year is just how much joy I see in people’s faces when they talk about having gotten married, or they talk about people they care about or love who’ve gotten married.”