Support for and Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 1988-2010

Support and Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 1988-2010 GSS

With no fanfare or press conference from a gaggle of right-wing  propagandists, the 2010 edition of the General Social Survey was released to the unwashed public (that would be me) this week.  Coming on the heels of our  recent Social Science Research article, the raw trend is quite an eye-popper. For the first time, a legitimate scientific survey is showing very clearly that the proportion of Americans who agree or strongly agree that same sex marriage should be legal exceeds the proportion who either oppose or strongly oppose marital rights.  46% of Americans favor civil rights, while 40% oppose civil rights, and the remainder just can’t seem to decide. Of course, this is an incredible shift from the first time the question was asked in 1988–when 73% of Americans opposed marital rights, but it is also a seismic change from 2004, when only 30% of Americans supported marriage rights for same sex couples, and 56% opposed civil rights.  I’ll have more on this as I get to work updating all of my files…gee, who do you think opposes marriage rights in this day and age? Maybe Christianists?

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11 Responses to “Support for and Opposition to Same Sex Marriage: 1988-2010”

  1. James Sweet Says:

    And old people! Don’t forget old people!

    So I’m thinking… would it be possible to get an estimate of what proportion of the shift was down to people changing their mind vs. opponents dying and proponents becoming old enough to take the GSS? Clearly for a change this rapid, it has to have been mostly people changing their mind, but I wonder just how much…

    • Ken Says:

      Using really, really ball park numbers… 300 million people in the US, about 4 million die and 4 million turn 18 every year, 18 year olds are about twice as likely as 70 year olds to support marriage equality. So about 1.33 million more people will support marriage equality every year just from attrition. That’s about 0.5%. So, support should grow at about 1% every two years from attrition even if no adult every chaged their mind on the issue.

  2. sherkat Says:

    Yes!

    It’s a tough nut with these data. There is a smaller longitudinal portion of the GSS which might get at that, however I’m not sure what the sample size will be who were asked this question. That would give a look at two year or maybe 4 year shifts among individuals. IN the 2008-2006 trend, I can show that controls for age and cohorts does not explain away the trend, suggesting that people did change their views. Of course, cohort replacement looms large, as we discuss in our paper—more and more age into the GSS sampling frame (18 year age cutoff), and older people die off. I’ve been trying to avoid doing another paper until I finish my damned book, but I hope to get back to this at some point soon and have something cool on this in the book–but that won’t include statistical decompositions of cohort effects…..books can’t handle that….

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  9. schmielt Says:

    Wouldn’t the rate of old people dying off be decreasing somewhat steadily due to medical advances? Isn’t that one of the problems with the health care system currently? People are living longer and needing more expensive care to do so? But maybe declining birth rates are holding it about steady so there’s not really a difference attributable to that…just wondered.

  10. gay Says:

    marriage equality should be legal from the the 2010 edition of the General Social Survey. Analysis here and here. I’m proud to say it must represent one of the most successful political, social and

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