The Pew Research
Center released new findings last week in a study
gauging the importance of gay marriage as a voting issue
among Americans. These findings were compared to
opinions collected before the last election in 2004
and again in 2007.
According to the
study, gay marriage is going to be a hot-button issue at
the polls come November. Interest in gay marriage as a
voting issue has increased across the board from
October 2007 to May 2008, when the study was
conducted, soon after the California supreme court
overturned the state's ban on gay marriage.
In the past year,
there has been a particular revival of interest in gay
marriage among conservative political parties and religious
groups. The study reported that the majority of the
increase was found among Republicans (up 14% from
2007), Catholics (up 11% from 2007), and white
evangelical Protestants (up 10% from 2007).
While interest in
gay marriage has risen in all voting groups, strong
opponents of gay marriage are far more likely to consider it
an important voting issue than those who strongly
favor gay marriage. According to the Pew study, 55% of
gay marriage opponents call the issue "very
important," while only 29% of supporters
consider it an important voting issue.
The study also
provided a comparison of opinions among registered voters
from the last election: 46% of those who voted for Sen. John
Kerry in 2004 favored gay marriage; 51% of Sen. Barack
Obama's supporters favor gay marriage this
year. Opposition among Republican voters has seen a
slight decrease since 2004, when 75% of President
Bush's supporters opposed gay marriage,
compared to 68% of Sen. John McCain's supporters in
The Pew study
also marked a decline in opposition toward gay marriage
among women, college graduates, and senior citizens.
Opposition among women has dropped from 56% in 2004 to
46% in 2008. While 46% of college graduates opposed
gay marriage in 2004, only 38% oppose it now.
Opposition among senior citizens (ages 65 and up) has
dropped 10% since 2004, from 68% to 58%.
According to the
study, civil unions prove to be much more popular than
gay marriage. While 38% of Americans support
full marriage equality, 51% favor civil unions,
which give gay couples some the same rights as
heterosexual married couples. (The Advocate)