We’re celebrating the end of the year with our most popular posts from 2013, plus a few of our favorites tossed in. Enjoy!
We’ve seen a real shift in support for the issue and acceptance of homosexuality in general. Since 2011, the majority of Americans are in favor of extending marriage to same-sex couples and the trend has continued.
What is behind that change? The Pew Research Center asked 1,501 respondents whether they’d changed their minds about same-sex marriage and why. Here’s what they found.
The overall trend towards increasing support is clear in the data. Fourteen percent of Americans say that they used to oppose same-sex marriage, but they now support it. Only 2% changed their mind in the other direction.
People offered a range of reasons for why they changed their minds. The most common response involved coming into contact with someone that they learned was homosexual. A third of respondents said that knowing a gay, lesbian, or bisexual person was influential in making them rethink their position on gay marriage. This is consistent with the Contact Hypothesis, the idea that (positive) experiences with someone we fear or dislike will result in changes of opinion.
As you can see, lots of other reasons were common too. A quarter of people said that they, well, “evolved”: they grew up, thought about it more, or more clearly. Nearly as many said that they were simply changing with the times or that a belief that everyone should be free to do what they want was more important than restricting the right to marry.
I thought that the 5% that said they’d changed their minds for religious reasons were especially interesting. Support for same-sex marriage is rising in every demographic, even among the religious. Following up on this, Pew offers an additional peek into the minds of believers. The table below shows that 37% of the religious both believe that same-sex marriage is compatible with their belief and support it, but an additional 28% who think marriage rights would violate their religious belief are in favor of extending those rights nonetheless.
While we’ve been following the trend lines for several years, it’s really interesting to learn what’s behind the change in opinion about same-sex marriage. Contact with actual gay people — and probably lovable gay and lesbian celebrities like Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris — appears to be changing minds. But the overall trend reflects real shifts in American values about being “open,” valuing “freedom” and “choice,” extending “rights,” and accepting that this is the way it is, even if one personally doesn’t like it.
Cross-posted at BlogHer and Pacific Standard.Lisa Wade, PhD is an Associate Professor at Tulane University. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture; a textbook about gender; and a forthcoming introductory text: Terrible Magnificent Sociology. You can follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Why the majority of people now favor marriage equality - Heavenarticles — April 9, 2013
[...] Why the majority of people now favor marriage equality [...]
David Pettinicchio — April 9, 2013
Interesting piece. Also something I have been thinking about, especially with the recent protests in France.
Yrro Simyarin — April 9, 2013
Heh, the conservatives were right - Hollywood and national media have been "corrupting" America's youth. Entertainment media and celebrities have been normalizing homosexuality for the entire developmental period of anyone under 30. I know that while I can remember, in my lifetime, a mix of good and evil homosexuals characters, I can't personally think of a single good anti-homosexual character.
It's kind of an awesome thing what's been accomplished, although we obviously still have a way to go.
Gelsomino Pasqualino — April 9, 2013
Americans now favor marriage equality because they don't care who gays marry, so long as attention can be refocused on the things that really concern most people, like how the #@#$ to find a job so they can have a meal and a roof over their head.
MJS — April 9, 2013
I suspect that a lot of anti-gay marriage types have just realized that they're the minority now, and they don't like it. So now they're following the crowd in the other direction.
Whatever works, I guess.
swankles — April 10, 2013
I find it hard to believe that "I know somebody that's gay" is the main reason for people changing their minds. why? unless the gay community has grown exponentially in the past couple decades then that reason would have always existed.
[links] Link salad boogies back to Texas | jlake.com — April 10, 2013
[...] Why Are People Changing Their Minds about Same-Sex Marriage? — It’s hard to hate people you actually know and care about. Which explains a lot about Republican polices on miseducating America’s children. A fear-based political movement requires isolation and willful ignorance to survive and prosper. [...]
mimimur — April 10, 2013
Really shows how strong the link is between ignorance and hate. This is why visibility is so important.
Paul Hawkins — April 11, 2013
The homosexual agenda is a hostile movement that has stripped Americans of their freedom of speech. Folks are, "evolving" on this issue because they do not want to be labeled as, "haters", and "homophobes". If you ever go onto any discussion board and voice your opposition to "same sex marriage", you will be attacked and vilified as a knuckle dragging, red neck, hater, homophobe, moron. People don't like being labeled as "bigots", so they simply fall in line. Most people don't have the courage or the energy to stand up or what they believe in, so they simply conform to the "herd mentality", so as not to be trampled by the herd.
The bottom line is that, marriage is what it is. Homosexuals are capable of falling in love and being in committed, monogamous, relationships. that can be a wonderful thing, but it is not, and can never be a "marriage". Same sex unions are not a, "MARRIAGE". A marriage is a union between a man and a woman. Anything else, is SOMETHING else. Does that mean that same sex unions are bad and that homosexuals are evil? No- It means they are DIFFERENT.
Paul Hawkins — April 11, 2013
i am sick and tired of MORONS claiming that just want people to be, "happy". What if having 5 wives was what was required to make one happy? What if marrying their sister made them happy. What if marrying your horse made you happy? Marriage has a definition. If there were no limits or parameters for marriage, it would simply be NOTHING. You cannot arbitrarily change the definition of marriage to facilitate a fantasy in which same sex couples can PRETEND that they are HUSBAND and WIFE. The fact that this RIDICULOUS debate has gone this far is preposterous and ABSURD. This is about nothing more that homosexuals wanting Americans to validate homosexuality, and celebrate and promote sexual dysfunction. This is another case of political correctness gone amok.
Man arrested for trying to be with his husband in the hospital — April 11, 2013
[...] your religious beliefs. This is about doing the right thing. If you do not come to embrace equality as so many others before you have, how will you explain robbing people of the same rights that you claim to [...]
Why I’m An Assimilationist – Ozy Frantz's Blog — April 12, 2013
[...] give us rights.” Which, as strategies go, has the advantage of totally working. Seriously! The single thing that correlates best with having changed your mind to support same-sex marriage is ...– that is, your mental image of queers shifts from “Pride Parade and anonymous bathroom [...]
Open Thread and Link Farm: Ozick Pawns Mailer Edition | Alas, a Blog — April 19, 2013
[...] Why Are People Changing Their Minds about Same-Sex Marriage? [...]
Excalibur — May 25, 2013
Because of societal conditioning (i.e. people are sheep). One day people will approve cannibalism.
same person — December 27, 2013
LGBT relationships have been shown as a different version of the same thing. A loving relationship, desirable as something everyone wants. I feel it has been marketed fantastically well over past decades, and GLBT's have come across as more relatable as the "common man" than before. ITs all strikingly conservative anyway.
Bill R — December 27, 2013
It is ultimately very difficult to live a life fearing and disliking those who are different from you. For thousands of years it was a necessity as relatively small clans and villages demonized outsiders to protect themselves; it was truly dangerous out there. Homophobia is just another form of protection, for the majority of the in-group.
The last vestiges of the old days lie in belief systems that support religions. The major religions of the world have for the most part encouraged fear and loathing of outsiders and have therefore lost any standing to lead in the future. That paradigm is over. In much of the world, as we move away from religion we embrace diversity.
Erational — December 27, 2013
I'm curious about why the contact hypothesis seems to apply so well to certain types of prejudice (homophobia seems like a good example), but not to others. I work with issues of fatphobia, and it seems difficult to make a sound case for the contact hypothesis here -- after all, most not-fat people know fat people, and generally have one or more in their immediate or extended families as well, often knowing them well enough to be aware of the similarities between those fat persons' own behaviours (diet, exercise) and their own. The contact hypothesis would seem to suggest that, because of this, most not-fat people should be accepting of fat people and fat rights, and increasingly understanding that fatness is not usually a 'choice' or a legitimate basis for discrimination. But in spite of being in frequent and close/intimate contact with fat people, not-fat people, on the whole, have been slow (and sometimes actually regressive) in embracing social equity for fat people. So what's the missing factor here?
Links 21 – 28/12/13 | Alastair's Adversaria — December 27, 2013
[…] 45. Why Are People Changing Their Minds About Same-Sex Marriage? […]
For sale online Badger Basket Modern Changing Table with 3 Baskets and Hamper, Espresso | kids home depot tool set — December 28, 2013
[…] Or, use the hamper elsewhere in the nursery or your house, leaving you a convenient spot in the changing table for your diaper pail or storage. Three pull-out baskets are ideal for changing supplies, […]
Why Are People Changing Their Minds About Same-Sex Marriage? — January 3, 2014
[…] Read more in Sociological Images […]
fun friday: hygge is my jam | effervescence — January 10, 2014
[…] This is something I’ve wondered about often: Why are people changing their minds about same-sex marriage? […]
DOB — January 29, 2014
I believe the change is correlated to the increase in the general belief that 'people are made that way' and don't have a choice. Once you believe that then people can't be held to account for how they are made -- examples like left and right handedness are enlisted to justify the change of mind, then the issue of 'equal rights' seems to follow naturally.
Of course neither gay lobby groups, nor scientific enquiry, fully supports this now widely help belief.
Ni en Sochi ni en Valencia: Yo no me corto | Lejos del tiempo — February 11, 2014
[…] orientación sexual no tiene porqué ser un límite para ser diputado, médico o deportista. Está demostrado que buena parte del cambio de las actitudes hacia la homosexualidad viene producido por tener […]
Domino — February 12, 2014
To support this behavior I would have to not believe in God. I believe in God and plan to continue to do so. God condemns it, so do I.
Suggestion Saturday: June 27, 2015 | On The Other Hand — June 27, 2015
[…] Why Are People Changing Their Minds About Same-Sex Marriage? This research is fascinating. I’ve seen it play it over and over again with acquaintances, friends and family members. […]