Wednesday, March 09, 2011

GSS Shows Support Exceeds Opposition To Marriage Equality

University of Illinois Sociologist Darren Sherkat has crunched the numbers of the 2010 General Social Survey to reveal that for the first time, more Americans support marriage equality than oppose the idea.

Sherkat says on his blog:
For the first time, a legitimate scientific survey is showing very clearly that the proportion of Americans who agree or strongly agree that same sex marriage should be legal exceeds the proportion who either oppose or strongly oppose marital rights.  46% of Americans favor civil rights, while 40% oppose civil rights, and the remainder just can’t seem to decide. Of course, this is an incredible shift from the first time the question was asked in 1988–when 73% of Americans opposed marital rights, but it is also a seismic change from 2004, when only 30% of Americans supported marriage rights for same sex couples, and 56% opposed civil rights.
Sherkat has analyzed the differences in support of and opposition to marriage equality by a number of different identifying characteristics such as race, religion, political affiliation.

For example, Sherkat has written a paper debunking the "zombie meme" that Black people were responsible for Proposition 8's passage (and the subsequent implication that African-Americans are more homophobic than white people). He demonstrates he racial gap in opposition to marriage equality in the following graph:

The reason for the racial gap in opposition to marriage equality, Sherkat explains in "Race, Religion, and Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage," is primarily explained in the different rates of religiosity among Black Americans and white Americans. Even so, in the last 6 years since same-sex marriage has been a reality in Massachusetts and beyond, opposition in the Black community has fallen faster (17 percentage points) than opposition in the White community (15.4 percentage points).

Sherkat's most interesting result is in his analysis of how religious beliefs and partisan affiliation impact opposition to marriage equality .

As Sherkat (somewhat irreverently) explains:
Notice that among fundies, who believe the bible is the inerrant word of god, support is very low even if you are a strong Democrat–but it’s twice as high as it is among Republican fundies. Among moderates and seculars, the effect of political party is quite dramatic—67% of strong Democrats who think the Bible  was inspired by god support same sex marriage, while among Republicans with the same beliefs support is 18%. Among people who think the bible is bunk, 82% of strong democrats support same sex marriage, while only a third of republican non-believers support civil rights. Party matters.
I wonder what the Log Cabin Republicans have to say about these results?

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