America was built on the foundation of equality for all men; however, not until recently have gay and lesbian individuals inherited such civil rights. One of the largest and most pressing issues effecting the gay population is the issue of gay marriage. Marriage is defined as “the relationship that exists between a husband and wife or a similar relationship between people of the same sex” (Websters). Within the past ten years fifteen states have legalized gay marriage.
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“As of Nov. 13, 2013, gay marriage has been legalized
in 15 US states (CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, MA, MD, ME,
MN, NH, NJ, NY, RI, VT, and WA) and the District
of Columbia. 34 states have gay marriage bans through
either laws or constitutional amendments or both.” (Procon)
Fifteen states legalizing gay marriage in ten years is a strong the accomplishment however, it is still, and continues to be, a very polarizing issue within the country. The passage and acceptance of gay marriage effects many different diversity categories including but not limited to age, religion, and ethnicity and race, and economic status.
There is a direct correlation between age and the opinion of same sex marriage in America. According to The Pew Research Center, younger Americans are much more accepting and favor same sex unions over older Americans (PewResearchgroup).
“Individuals, born after 1980, favor allowing gays and
lesbians to marry legally by a 53%-to-39% margin,
while there is less support for same-sex marriage among
Baby Boomers –those born 1946 to 1964 — than among
younger age groups. Currently, 38% favor allowing gays
and lesbians to marry legally while 52% are opposed”
These recent poling numbers would suggest a continuing trend from generation to generation; each new generation is more in favor of same sex marriage than the previous. With more Americans favoring same sex marriage than ever before, one would believe this trend of acceptance of gay marriage will continue over the next generations to come. Religion
There is a strong relationship between how religious you see yourself and your views and attitudes toward gay marriage. This idea is not very surprising although very important as it contributes to an understanding of the religious factors that influence opinions about issues directly impacting the gay population. “Religious attendance is associated with negative attitudes towards gay and lesbians and less support to gay and lesbian civil rights.” (Todd and Ong, 1) There is a positive link between high religious attendance and negative attitudes towards gay marriage; religious attendance is a constant predictor of attitudes towards gay marriage. Within subgroups of religion such as Christian Orthodoxy and conservative Protestant, “with such an identification, therefore reducing the odds of supporting gay marriage.” (Todd and Ong, 1) Findings suggest the more one identifies and strictly follows their religious views has a direct link to their views on gay marriage.
Ethnicity and Race
Views and opinions, whether they be negative or positive regarding gay marriage changes and varies within ethnicities and race. African-Americans are generally more opposed to gay marriage versus their white counterparts. “African-American religiosity is primarily responsible for their conservative views about homosexuality and same-sex marriage.” (Sherkat, Mattias de Vries, and Creek, 81) The factors of race and religion closely relate to each other in this aspect and help to influence each other. As stated above religion has great influence on ones views of same-sex marriage and “African-Americans have the highest rates of religious participation of any subgroup of the U.S. population” (Sherkat, Mattias de Vries, and Creek 81)
“Between 1998 and 2004, white opposition to same-sex
marriage declined to under 54 percent, and it dipped to
under 46 percent by 2008. Opposition to same-sex marriage
also declined substantially for those of “other” races,
decreasing to under 40 percent in the 2004 survey, and
fluctuating between 45percent in 2006 and 43 percent in
2008. Yet, African-American opposition did not decline
substantially between 1988 and 2006.” (Sherkat, Mattias de
Vries, and Creek 81)
Within different races the opinions of gay marriage seem to be changing with the times except for the African-American race. Again, whether it is due to outside factors of religion, culture, or tradition, the African-American race seems to be lagging in the forward movement of gay marriage.
As Americans we are guaranteed certain inalienable civil rights and liberties, however as we have seen and know that is not always true. Based on an individual’s sexual preference the ability to marry is not always assured. Factors such as age, religion, ethnicity and race, and economic status greatly influence ones opinion on same sex marriage. Those who are older and more religious oppose gay marriage more than their counterparts who are younger and less religious. Is this to say every older religious individual does not believe in same sex marriage? The answer is no; however, these factors such as age and religiousness tend to follow these trends. There is also variation in opinions within races and ethnicities. White Americans seem to be the most accepting of gay marriage over African-Americans and other races.
The decision on choosing gay marriage legalization and views in America today comes from the realization that there are more gay couples seeking marriage in today’s society than ever before. Gay marriage is no different than heterosexual marriage between a man and a woman with the one obvious exception of gay marriage being between two individuals of the same-sex. Often times, gay marriages are not granted the same civil rights and civil liberties as their heterosexual counterparts. Age, religion, ethnicity and race, and economic status greatly factor into ones positive or negative views on gay marriage.
Throughout this course I have learned that some individuals or even groups of people, such as the gay population, have a very difficult time obtaining the same advantages as their peers. In the past, homosexuality was something to be feared, however, today the public opinion of gay marriage is changing for the better. Stereotypes and prejudices still exist today however they are slowly being phased out by an understanding and more positive attitude towards gay marriage. As of today fifteen states have legalized gay marriage with many other states predicated to soon follow suit.
This research has helped me better understand the struggle and plight that the gay community often faces for basic civil rights. Liberties and benefits that I take for granted that come along with marriage are not often extended to the gay community based solely on sexual orientation. I have gained a new appreciation of marriage because I know it is not something that is equal for everyone as well as not obtainable for every individual at this present time. Marriage is not something to be taken for granted because there are those that still cannot share in its wealth. American was built on the foundation of freedom for all regardless of differing diversities; I believe this should hold true for all regardless of sexual orientation.
“Gay MarriageProCon.org.” ProConorg Headlines. ProConorg, 11 Nov.2013. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. Kohut, Andrew. “Less Opposition to Gay Marriage, Adoption and Military Service.” Pew Research Center for the People and the Press RSS. People Press, 22 Mar. 2006. Web. 06 Nov. 2013 “Marriage.” Marriage. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
Sherkat, Darren, Kylan Mattais De Vrias, and Stacia Creek. “Race, Religion, and Opposition to Same-.” Social Science Quarterly (2010): 80-100. EBSCO. Web. 17 Nov. 2013. . Todd, Nathan R., and Katherine S. Ong. “Political and Theological Orientation as Moderators for the Association between Religious Attendance and Attitudes toward Gay Marriage for White Christians.”
Psychology of Religion and Spirtuality 4.1 (2011): 56-70. EBSCO. Web. 2013. .