While opposition to same-sex marriage is based entirely on religious reasons (although some opponents might try to disguise that fact by finding seemingly secular reasons), it is interesting that a new survey released yesterday by the Public Religion Research Institute finds that the majority of many mainline religious groups support it.
The most supportive major religious groups are Buddhists (84 percent), Jews (77 percent), and Americans who select “Other religion” (75 percent); additionally, more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the religiously unaffiliated also support same-sex marriage.
More than six in ten (62 percent) white mainline Protestants support same-sex marriage. Among white mainline Protestant denominations, support ranges from 69 percent support among white mainline Presbyterians and 68 percent among both white Episcopalians and white Congregationalists/United Church of Christ members, to lower support among white mainline Baptists (53 percent) and white mainline Church of Christ/Disciples (50 percent).
And while the Catholic Church officially opposes the legalization of same-sex marriage, about six in ten white (61 percent), Hispanic (60 percent), and other non-white Catholics (60 percent) support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. A majority of orthodox Christians (56 percent) also support same-sex marriage.
So where does the religious opposition that conservative politicians are courting come from?
On the other side of the debate, majorities of Jehovah’s Witnesses (75 percent), Mormons (68 percent), white evangelical Protestants (66 percent), Hispanic Protestants (58 percent), and black Protestants (54 percent) oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. Among white evangelical Protestant denominations, white evangelical Baptists are the most opposed (72 percent), while white evangelical Lutherans are nearly evenly divided (45 percent favor, 48 percent opposed).
Meanwhile a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released today finds support among all Americans for same-sex marriage at an all-time high of 61%.
I think the astonishingly rapid rise in support is due to the dawning realization among many people who once opposed same-sex marriage for no clear reason other than some vague notion of tradition that who else gets to get married or not doesn’t make a damn bit of difference in their own lives so why should they care at all about stopping it?
These survey results were clearly released with next week’s oral arguments on same-sex marriage in mind. While it is not clear how closely the justices of the US Supreme Court allow public attitudes to shape their thinking, there are a couple of justices (Chief Justice Roberts and justice Anthony Kennedy) who seem to be mindful of the way that the court will be perceived by history and this is one area where the verdict of history is already manifestly clear.
At the same time this survey must be causing heartburn to the Republican party and their presidential candidates who have hitched themselves to the anti-same-sex marriage zealots. They must be wondering if those groups are going to drag them over the cliff while at the same time realizing that their past harsh rhetoric is hard to walk away from.
And then there are the true crazies like Iowa representative Steve King who has proposed a bill that prevents federal courts from hearing cases on same-sex marriage. And Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is vowing that unlike other governors who caved to pressure, he will make his state the last outpost of opposition. King’s bill has no chance of passing and Jindal has no chance of becoming president but both those moves pull the Republican party even further into insane territory.