The Pew Research Center has recently released a poll tracking the opinions of religious Americans on the issues of same-sex marriage and civil unions. You can check out the data for yourself here. This graph in particular stood out to me:
Based on this graph, since 1996 to the present, there has been a twelve point swing towards the direction of favoring same-sex marriage among religious Americans. Obviously, these kinds of studies should be taken with a grain of salt, especially considering the various kinds of “religious” people this poll draws data from. For instance, those who regularly participate in religious services are more likely to oppose issues of same-sex equality. But what’s more interesting to me is that it seems that from 96 to around the end of 06, the swing towards favoring same-sex marriage was only 3 points. But since the end of 06 to the end of 09, the severity of the upward swing is more pronounced (9 point). It’s also very telling that the spikes in opposition to same-sex marriage happen at precisely when our country is in the middle of a Presidential election. The election of 2004 comes to my mind when the Rovian tactics of homophobia and racism (i.e. “family values) were in full swing.
Another interesting data point in this research is that support for civil unions is actually on the rise with religious Americans:
Again, we see the dips in favor of civil unions during the 04 and 08 Presidential election cycles. Besides that point, it seems this data indicates a possible softening of the opposition to same-sex relationships in general. Religious Americans seem be relenting when it comes to the prospect of two individuals of the same sex being in a civilly acknowledge relationship, just as long as that relationship isn’t a civilly recognized marriage. Oddly enough, this data point seems to be contradictory to the conservative platform of monogamy and committed, marital relationships and families. Go figure.
The last point that I think is worth recognizing is that, based on this research, 58% of those polled in the 18-29 age range favor same-sex marriage compared to just 38% in the 30-49 age bracket. If I were on the conservative side of this debate, I’d be more than a little bit concerned with that 20% margin. It’s in keeping with what I’ve written on this blog before; a shift is happening and the conservative side of this argument has already lost. It’s just a matter of time. Regardless of what you may believe is right or wrong, you will have to contend with this shift in profound ways.