October 11, 2013

Conservatives continue to oppose same-sex marriage but by smaller margins

FT_13.10.11_valueVoters_310pxSome of the nation’s religious and socially conservative leaders are gathering in Washington this weekend for the Values Voter Summit, which includes a panel discussion on “The Future of Marriage.” This is the first time the group has met since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a key provision in the federal Defense of Marriage Act that prevented legally wed same-sex couples from receiving all the federal benefits currently available to married couples of the opposite sex.

Support for same-sex marriage has been growing in recent years, with half (50%) of Americans now in favor and 43% opposed. While support is considerably lower among those who identify as white evangelical Protestant, Republican or politically conservative, support for same-sex marriage has risen even among these groups over the past decade, according to aggregated Pew Research data.

Today, roughly three-in-ten Republicans (29%) and political conservatives (30%) say they support same-sex marriage, compared with 12 years ago, when 21% of Republicans and 18% of conservatives expressed this view. About a quarter (23%) of white evangelical Protestants now say they favor same-sex marriage, compared with 13% in 2001.

Some of this shift in opinion is attributable to members of the Millennial generation (those born since 1980), who express higher levels of support for same-sex marriage than older age groups.

For example, data from Pew Research surveys from March and May 2013 show that adults under age 30 who say they are Republican or lean Republican are much more supportive of same-sex marriage (54%) than Republicans 65 and older (18%). At the same time, younger Republicans are much less supportive of same-sex marriage than those in the 18-29 age bracket who are Democrats or lean Democratic (54% vs. 76%).

Topics: Religion and Society, Gay Marriage and Homosexuality

  1. is a Senior Writer/Editor for the Pew Research Center Center’s Religion & Public Life Project.


  1. Robert4 years ago

    A likely large contributor to the increase in support of same sex marriage when comparing polls taken 12 years apart is 12 years of population attrition. As the results above indicate, the oldest segment of the population is less supportive of the idea. It’s probably safe to say that in 12 years, a good portion of the 65+ demographic has ceased to hold ANY opinion and has been replaced by a more progressive younger generation. There may be a few people who are changing their views as they age, but this is not likely a big contributor to the trend. Also, if you look at the sample sizes for the various age groups, it’s likely that the overall results are somewhat skewed in favor of opposition. For example, in both of the tables above, the 65+ age groups, who are less likely to favor same sex marriage, made up over 26-28% of the sample size. But they only comprise about 15% of the total US population. My conclusion is that the US population is even more supportive of same sex marriage than the 50% indicated in the table above and that every year (every day, actually) the level of overall support will increase.

  2. billy wingartenson4 years ago

    PS- there was a poll – forget who did it on the HRC website – catholics who go to church weekly support SSM 60%, those who go less then weekly (? monthly) 65%

    I dont think they broke it down by age group or party but I’ll bet most catholics are democrats – the church is supposed to be about social justice and runs excellent hospitals who i know give the best of care to gay people also

    BTW my 2 yr old grandson spent most of 3 weeks in the childrens hospital in DC due to SVT – runaway heart beat whcih is deadly or can cause brain damage. I havent askted my son about the bill but I bet it was about $100,000

    No insurance company would insure him for the next few decades if they didnt have to do so, but the Obama ACA will end caps on med insurance and all pre-existing conditions

    My son is lucky that he had family med insurance from his job.

    BTW its the right wng xtians who rant against obama the ACA etc, while they claim to support life

    A lie just as gross as their creation bull droppings and the earth is only 6000 yearr old crap that buttresses their creation story. Many of them – the only creation they support is racism. eg hating Obama