Thursday, May 9, 2013

Why Are Americans Rapidly Changing Their Minds about Gay Marriage? Hint: It's About Love

Yesterday, I noted the changed mind of University of St. Thomas Law professor Charles J. Reid about same-sex marriage. As I noted, Reid indicates that part of what led to his changed mind about this issue, when he previously opposed same-sex marriage, has been seeing a number of same-sex couples he knows maintain loving, successful unions. This testimony, the lived experience of loving union of some of the same-sex couples Reid knows, has, inter alia, caused him to recognize that the procreative norm by which marriage has historically been more or less exclusively defined should not obliterate the affective norm, which is also there in the Christian tradition.

After I had summarized Reid's argument here yesterday, I read Terry Weldon's recent posting at Queering the Church on why Americans are rapidly changing their minds about the topic of marriage equality. Terry focuses on the Pew Research Center's report, "Changing Minds: Behind the Rise in Support for Gay Marriage."

As Terry notes, citing the Pew data, support for same-sex marriage has risen among Americans as a whole from 33% in 2003 to 49% this year, with opposition dropping in the same ten-year period from 58% to 44%. But for the millennials born after 1980, support for same-sex marriage has risen spectacularly in the same decade from 51% to 70%.

And so why is this shift occurring so rapidly in the past decade? Pew asked respondents who indicated that their minds had changed, as Charles Reid's has, precisely why they've changed their mind about marriage equality. Their response is interesting: over a third of respondents* whose minds have changed say that this has happened because they have friends, family, or acquaintances who are gay or lesbian.

When you love real human beings, and know that they are capable of real love, it is difficult to view them as intrinsically disordered queer triangles trying to turn into squares, or little boys, dirty Freddies, who need to wash their dirty hands before they come to the family table. 

It's as simple as that.

*At one point in the report, I seem to see a figure of 32% for those who gave this response, and at another point, unless I'm mistaken, the figure is 37%.

As the graphic indicates, it is a Pew graphic from the report linked above.

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