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There’s Record Support for Gay Marriage (But Not Gay Sex)

There’s Record Support for Gay Marriage (But Not Gay Sex)

The Washington Post recently found a record number of Americans support marriage equality,the numbers being 59 percent to 34 percent. While not quite showing supermajority status, that result is largely backed up by another more in depth poll conducted by Public Religion Research, which shows that on the equality front the gay community has a lot to be happy about.

In 2003, the PRR poll showed that less than one-third of Americans (32 percent) favored allowing gay and lesbian people the right to get married, with 59 percent opposed. Now, a clear majority of 53 percent are in favor while there’s only 41 percent who oppose marriage equality. The poll also shows that 58 percent of Americans now support same-sex parents adopting children.

Digging deeper, even though only just over 30 percent of Republicans favor marriage equality, the poll shows that when divided by age, the figure starts to look more rosy. Exactly half of millennials who identify as Republican appear to support same-sex marriage. The same holds true with religious opposition. While there are a number of accepting religious denominations, white Protestant Evangelicals still poll against. However, white Protestant Evangelicals from the millennial generation are twice as likely to poll in favor of gay marriage than their older counterparts (43 percent v. 19 percent). Similarly, young African Americans are far more likely to support marriage equality than the average for the entire demographic (59 percent v. 39 percent).

So what does this tell us? Well, it largely supports what we already knew: that marriage equality is obviously gaining ground and that with successive generations it appears that support will only grow stronger. That’s not surprising, but it is edifying. Freedom to Marry National Campaign Director Marc Solomon released a statement on the Washington Post’s poll, saying:

Bipartisan momentum is overwhelmingly on our side. A supermajority of Americans believe in freedom and fairness, and support is growing at an unprecedented speed.

Overwhelmingly, Americans no matter where they live, how old they are, or what party they belong to believe in treating their gay and lesbian family members and friends with dignity and respect by supporting their freedom to marry. Its the right thing to do on both moral and constitutional grounds.

Not so fast though. The PRR has a fly for our ointment.

Its research found that while a majority of Americans may now support marriage equality, many do so while maintaining the belief that gay sex is immoral. Around 51 percent of people said gay sex is wrong while 43 percent said they have no moral objection. What’s more, while millennials were more likely to say that they had no moral objection, the difference between them and the general population was only marginal.

What’s going on here? Well, it might actually show that with its younger generations America is, on this issue at least, maturing.

While obviously gay rights advocates would prefer if most Americans were able to say they had no moral objections to same-sex sexual activity, the data shows that younger people are recognizing what is a fundamental principle: that despite our personal feelings on someone else’s lives, that does not give us, our legislatures or our governments the right to infringe on the private, legal conduct of other people.

This wasn’t the case just a few years ago when moral disapproval was the driving force behind, for instance, the federal Defense of Marriage Act which banned the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages and therein prevented same-sex married couples from accessing a host of benefits. Even as relatively recently as 2008, moral disapproval was the driving force behind California’s now overturned ban on marriage equality. It no longer seems like moral disapproval can mobilize like it once did though, and that’s a great thing.

So while we might roll our eyes at the notion that this kind of moral disapproval still exists, it doesn’t take away from the groundbreaking level of support surrounding marriage equality and does serve to suggest that things are only going to get better as time marches on.

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Photo credit: Thinkstock.

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67 comments

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10:53AM PDT on Mar 18, 2014

Hey Ron B. where do you put your penis?

In as much as you type your outrage I think you should respect my beliefs as well.
Hey Mr. Manly man.......muslims kill gay people. seriously, google it. don't rip me a new vagina .....I wish people would really care about people. rather than what hole their dick goes up.

1:37PM PDT on Mar 16, 2014

Seriously?????????

10:35AM PDT on Mar 15, 2014

Really...I got news you can't be in a gay marriage+have straight sex. Ignorant IMBECILES.

3:14AM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd. Bertrand Russell

3:40PM PDT on Mar 13, 2014

good explanations of the trends

7:25PM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

My thought (like anyone cares) is like this...love is great, marriage is good but requires a lot of work to make it work. I support healthy relationships.
I really don't want to know about your private details. you should be respected for being a person first.
I have no respect for people who hurt others.
that being typed...sometimes what you say or portray may cause things to be construed by other people which may not have the outcome you wanted.
I got fired from my job on Sunday for saying something....

2:27PM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

Darryll,

In response to "because it goes against the laws of nature and of God"

-Homosexuality occurs in nature, so obviously it is not against laws of nature.

-God does not exist, so there's no such thing as god's law. (If there were, why doesn't god come & enforce it?)

So, do you have a more realistic explanation as to why "homosexuality is immoral"?

7:24AM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

I can't speak for other Gay men, but I can assure all those Christians that I do not lay with women as I would men..

12:57AM PDT on Mar 12, 2014

Actually, this is not mysterious at all. The objections to gay marriage from the religious communities is based on passages in the Bible that refer to sexual activity, which says all sorts of wacky things are abominations, from eating bacon to men lying with men as they would with a woman. People have begun to rethink the denial of equal civil rights to LGBT people (Joe Biden was right when he said 'Will and Grace' had had a huge impact on America), and they've grown used to watching gay couples depicted in a positive light - 'Modern Family' is America's favorite sitcom - so acceptance of gay marriage is inexorably on the rise. But if you drill down and start asking about gay sex, the Bible rears it's ugly head, even when we are not conscious of it, even among those who haven't set foot in church in years. And then of course, there is the 12 year old, immaturity factor, as one poster said, and it's little brother, the ick factor, as another pointed out.

10:06PM PDT on Mar 11, 2014

I guess they want same sex couples to have sex about as often as many straight couples.
I saw a cartoon this week where a husband and wife are having coffee and the wife says, "Same-sex marriage is nothing new. We've been having the same sex for 25 years."

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