Pew: Gay marriage gains favor of younger white evangelicals

by Diana Chandler, posted Thursday, June 29, 2017 (5 months ago)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected in the sixth paragraph to clarify the percentage of conservative Republicans approving of gay marriage.

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Young white evangelicals -- both Millennials and Gen-Xers -- born after 1964 are among societal groups increasingly approving of same-sex marriage, according to new Pew Research Center figures.

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Homosexual marriage is supported by 47 percent of younger white evangelicals today, compared to only 29 percent in March of 2016, Pew said in a study conducted June 8-18 among 2,504 adults. Older white evangelicals, including Silents born before 1946 and Baby Boomers, overwhelmingly remain opposed. Only 26 percent of evangelicals in the older groups approve of the practice, comparable to the 25 percent in the 2016 study.

Support for same-sex marriage was tabulated at its highest in over 20 years of Pew polling, with 62 percent of Americans in favor and only 32 percent opposed. Republicans, Baby Boomers and African Americans joined young white evangelicals in driving the growing approval of the practice, Pew said.

"Views on same-sex marriage have shifted dramatically in recent years," Pew said. "As recently as 2010, more Americans opposed than favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally."

Baby Boomers are leading the way in acceptance, with 56 percent in favor of gay marriage and 39 percent opposed, Pew said. Last year, 48 percent opposed same-sex marriage, while 46 percent favored the practice.

Republicans and Republican-leaning independents registered a 47-percent approval of gay marriage, up from 33 percent as recently as 2013. Today, only 48 percent of those in the Republican-related categories disapprove of gay marriage. Acceptance is higher among moderate and liberal Republicans (63 percent), Pew said, with only 39 percent of conservative Republicans approving of gay marriage.

While African Americans "have long been less supportive of same-sex marriage when compared with whites," Pew said, 51 percent of the ethnic group favor gay marriage today, compared to 39 percent in 2015.

A majority of white evangelical Protestants, 59 percent, still oppose same-sex marriage, Pew said, with only 35 percent in favor. Religion continues to drive opinions, with wide margins of Catholics (67 percent), white mainline Protestants (68 percent), and the religiously unaffiliated (85 percent) favoring legal marriage for same-sex couples. Black Protestants oppose gay marriage 50 percent to 44 percent, according to Pew.

Gay marriage continues to gain traction globally, with Germany considered next in line to legalize the practice. There, Social Democratic Party (SPD) leader Martin Schulz has vowed to "push through marriage equality in Germany ... this week," the Independent reported today (June 29). Same-sex marriage is expected to pass in Germany as early as June 30, the Independent said.

Nearly 775 million people now live in countries where gay marriage is legal, Australia's Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) news reported June 1. Same-sex marriage is legal in 22 countries, and is slated to become legal in Taiwan no later than 2019 under court order, SBS said.

In addition to the U.S., same-sex couples can legally marry in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, France, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland) and Uruguay.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' general assignment writer/editor. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
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