PEW research, published in the spring of 2014, concludes that America has flipped on gay marriage.
“In Pew Research polling in 2001, Americans opposed same-sex marriage by a 57% to 35% margin,” Pew reports. “Since then, support for same-sex marriage has steadily grown. Today, a majority of Americans (54%) support same-sex marriage, compared with 39% who oppose it.”
Because the United States is distinctive among the world’s nations for the intensity of religion in our culture, this also means that the vast majority of Americans identify with religious groups. As “Americans” change attitudes on any issue, by definition, it means the members of America’s religious groups are changing their attitudes. That’s different than saying official church policies are changing, but the trend is powerful, Pew concludes.
Within that larger change, Pew finds:
- AGE MATTERS—A majority of younger Americans, people who are under 30 now, have approved of gay marriage for more than a decade. Clearly, the cultural shift is driven by a dramatic generational change in attitudes.
- POLITICAL AFFILIATION MATTERS—Not surprisingly, more conservative Americans are drawn to the Republican party. What is striking in Pew’s new report is the growing gap between Republicans and Democrats on this issue. In 2001, the parties were separated by 22 percentage points on this issue (with 21 percent of Republicans approving vs. 43 percent of Democrats). Now, the gap is 35 percentage points! (32 vs. 67 percent).
- RACE MATTERS—As Americans have read in headlines nationwide, many black church leaders oppose same-sex marriage and black communities are resisting the idea that gay rights is an extension of the civil rights movement. Pew reports that an 11-point gap has emerged between white and black Americans on this issue (54 percent of white Americans now approving vs. 43 percent of black Americans).
- GENDER MATTERS—Women always have been more sympathetic toward gay marriage. From 2001 to today, women as a group have been 6 to 10 percentage points more approving than men.
What do you see in these trends?
Why do these factors matter so much? For example, why are women more approving?
COMING WEDNESDAY: Dramatic change in the world’s largest church.