Study Shows a Growing Support for Same-Sex Marriage

It was a disappointing start to National Coming Out Day in New York City when gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino continued to express his blatant misunderstanding of homosexual culture on the Today Show this morning, stating at one point:

"They wear speedos and grind against each other."

But not all news on this momentous day has been so disheartening. For one, America actually isn't as opposed to gay marriage as previously assumed. According to a study recently conducted by the Pew Research Center, fewer than half of those polled opposed same-sex marriage for the first time in 15 years. After polling more than 6,000 adults, the results showed 42 percent favored same-sex marriage, while 48 percent opposed-- a notable change since 2009's results (37 percent favored, 54 percent opposed). But more surprisingly, perhaps, is this:

"The shift in opinion on same-sex marriage has been broad-based, occurring across many demographic, political and religious groups. Notably, pluralities of white mainline Protestants and white Catholics now favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally - the first time this has occurred in Pew Research Center surveys."

Similarly surprising, out of 13 issues listed (including the economy, abortion, health care, terrorism, and the environment), same-sex marriage was polled to be the least important in determining an individual's vote in the 2010 elections. These statistics are hard to believe when, in the past week, three men were tortured in the Bronx for being gay and an assault occurred in the notorious Stonewall Inn, in addition to the recent suicide of a Rutgers student bullied for being homosexual. But in a time when the issue of gay-marriage is seemingly at the forefront, the Pew Research Center has pointed out another important aspect:

"There are substantial age and generational differences in opinions about same-sex marriage. Millennials, born after 1980, favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally by a 53 percent to 39 percent margin... Among Gen Xers (born 1965 to 1980), 48 percent now favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 43 percent are opposed... There is less support for same-sex marriage among Baby Boomers -- those born 1946 to 1964 -- than among younger age groups. Currently, 38 percent favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 52 percent are opposed... The Silent Generation (born 1928 to 1945) continues to oppose same-sex marriage; just 29 percent favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally while 59 percent are opposed."

Rather than showing, as Sarah Silverman asserted, that public opinion of same-sex marriage is shaped primarily by parents passing beliefs onto children, these results suggest the opposite. Notoriously the most favorable of same-sex marriage as of lately, Millennials continue to pave the way for older generations as statistics show a growing increase in acceptance of same-sex marriage by Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers, and The Silent Generation.

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As public figures voice their support and gay marriage is ruled legal in Connecticut, the statistics found by the Pew Research Center firmly attest to the notion that America's opinion on same-sex marriage continues to change.

[atimm@villagevoice.com]


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