Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life released a study which reflected a significant shift in the opinions of Americans in regards to marriage equality. The study breaks down groups affiliated by generation, political views, gender, and religion. Compared to 2001, when 57% of Americans opposed marriage equality, numbers have switched, and Americans in favor have reached over half the population. Only 43% of Americans are opposed to marriage equality at this time.
Generationally, the study found the younger someone is, the more likely they'll be in favor of marriage equality. Millennials, people born in 1981 or after, are almost twice as likely as the silent generation, people born in 1928 to 1945, to support marriage equality. Older generations, as a whole, show more resistance toward this shift.
Politically, 6 in 10 democrats and independents are in favor of marriage equality, while most republicans are still in opposition. 73% of liberals, 58% of moderates, and 30% of conservatives support marriage equality.
Within the results concerning religion, approval continues to rise in every religious category. Individuals with no religious affiliation show the highest rates of approval. White Evangelicals have a 10% support increase from 13% in 2001, to 23% currently. Catholics and White Mainline Protestants stand with half of their population supporting marriage equality at this time. White Evangelicals and Black Protestants are the least in favor standing at 20-30% With the spike in states adopting marriage equality, multiple religious groups now perform same-sex marriage ceremonies and blessings including Ecumenical Catholic Church, Episcopal Church,
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Reconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalist Association, United Church of Christ, and Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. Many of the congregations within these denominations performed ceremonies prior to many of the states granting marriage equality as well.
What caused this dramatic shift in viewpoints?
1. Chances are, you probably personally know someone that identifies as LGBT. When this becomes something people can relate with on an emotional level, it becomes less foreign and easier to accept. LGBT people are our fellow parishioners, priests, neighbors, family members, teachers, political leaders, and friends. If you love the person for who they are before they come out, chances are you will still love them after. As a result of this shift, people are becoming more comfortable with coming out. With more people coming out, more people have personal acquaintances they can identify with.
2. As religious communities become more accepting, LGBT people are finding comfort and family in places of faith. Faith communities have LGBT parishioners and priests that enrich their place of worship. With these individuals as role models and leaders within their religious organizations, we see that there is no difference between a LGBT and straight member.
3. As a country, America is going through a societal shift. Not only is the culture becoming more accepting and inclusive, but the religious communities are also altering the way they view the LGBT community.
"More and more religious people are getting to know and form deep and trusting relationships with LGBT people, which is causing a shift in attitudes about LGBT people." said Ross Murray, Director of News and Faith Initiatives at GLAAD, "Even the most stereotypically 'anti-gay' religions have seen an increase in acceptance for LGBT people. We've also witnessed LGBT people commit themselves to their faith communities. They are proving themselves to be as dedicated and faithful as their straight counterparts."