Podcast: Play in new window
| Download (Duration: 3:44 — 3.4MB)
The American public is growing more supportive of same-sex marriage. That’s according to Indiana University Sociologist Brian Powell, who published a paper recently about public opinion and gay marriage. Powell’s team interviewed and re-interviewed people around the country and found that overall Americans have become more and more accepting of gay marriage. And despite the fact that some lawmakers continue to advance laws that target LGBT people for discrimination, Powell says the majority of the public is no longer on board. He goes on to sat that in their interviews the majority of the public is more inclusive and that a clear majority are in favor of same sex marriage.
Powell’s group also studied what motivates those who oppose gay marriage. He says that, for the most part, opposition is based in some form of moral disapproval. And typically that disapproval is rooted in biblical teaching.
The study also found that a gay couple’s relationship was typically seen as more QUOTE “ legitimate” if the couple was married. People view married couples as constituting a family more than couples who live together and are not married. But that thinking changes, according to Powell, when married same-sex couples move to states where their marriages are not legally recognized. According to Powell’s research, people often confuse civil unions with gay marriages. Many believe civil unions afford the same rights as marriage. He says this is harmful because a civil union is legally different than a marriage, in many ways including social-security benefits which would be recognized for a married couple, but would not be the same with a civil union status.
Powell says his research does more than document a change in public opinion. He said it can also be used to show that moral disapproval is responsible for motivating gay marriage bans. This could be significant as the U.S. Supreme Court considers the issue of same-sex marriage. The opposition to gay marriage is expected to claim before the Court that gay marriage bans are purely a state interest and not rooted in animus.
If the Supreme Court rules in favor same-sex marriage, Powell says he plans to explore other questions, including how same-sex couples choose whether or not to marry.