The increase in the percentage of the US population who approve of the idea that people of different races should be able to marry freely is one of the largest changes in opinion that Gallup has seen in its polling over the years.

From the 2021 survey, 94% approve of marriage between Black and White people, up from 4% (!) in 1961.

Predictably, most of this is driven by changes in White people’s opinions, although there were previously substantial-but-smaller proportions of people in other groups who didn’t approve of marrying across racial lines either.

It’s easy to overlook how some things have changed substantially for the better, particularly whilst there remain so many things obviously wrong with the world of today. It somehow feels absolutely inconceivable that even within my own short lifetime there were extensive periods where the majority of Americans disapproved of people of differing races getting married.

That said, it was only last year that interracial and same-sex marriage rights were codified into US federal law, driven by the fear that the same kind of Supreme Court decision that overturned the constitutional right to abortion might be weaponised against the kind of marriage rights that a certain type of conservative would rather didn’t exist either in the future.

It was after all a Supreme Court decision that enabled the recognition of many American interracial marriages in the first place. Incredibly, it’s only a little over 50 years since interracial marriages were literally illegal in many parts of the US. That changed in 1967, when in Loving v. Virginia the Supreme Court ruled that bans of that sort violated the constitution.