Polling Trends on Same-Sex Marriage

Polling Trends on Same-Sex Marriage

By Rev. Thomas Lambrecht

News reports for several years have trumpeted rising poll numbers in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.  About six months ago, the poll numbers purportedly crossed the line to majority support.

A recent study by Rice University calls those results into question. The study is unique because it asked the question of the same people, six years apart.  Over 1,300 people were asked in 2006 and again in 2012 their level of agreement with this statement:  “The only legal marriage should be between one man and one woman.”

There was no statistically significant change in opinion from 2006 to 2012.  In 2006, 57% agreed with the statement, and in 2012, 53% agreed with the statement (within the margin of error of the poll).  In 2006, 31% disagreed with the statement, while in 2012, 33% disagreed with the statement.  On its face, this poll shows that a majority of Americans favor the traditional definition of marriage, while only about a third favor changing that definition.

What is more intriguing, however, is to see how many people changed their minds over the six years.  Of those who agreed with the traditional definition of legal marriage in 2006, one-quarter moved away from that opinion in 2012.  At the same time, of those who disagreed with the traditional definition of marriage in 2006, 40% moved away from that opinion in 2012.  The more who moved away from favoring legal same-sex marriage were offset by undecided persons who shifted to favor same-sex marriage, so that the overall percentages remained about the same.

These results belie the pervasive media storyline that people are overwhelmingly changing their opinion to favor legalizing same-sex marriage.  In fact, if I did my math correctly, almost as many people switched from pro-gay marriage to pro-traditional marriage as went the other way.

For more analysis on why the poll numbers vary from one polling organization to another, see the excellent follow-up article by Mark Regenerus.

My takeaways?

  1. Many people are still changing their minds on the advisability of legalizing same-sex marriage.  The debate is not over in this country.
  2. It is profitable for Christians to make the arguments in favor of traditional male-female monogamous marriage in a winsome way, since even those who at one time favored same-sex marriage are open to reconsidering their viewpoint.
  3. Support for same-sex marriage is not as strong in the U.S. as some polls make it out to be.  We should not look at it as a foregone conclusion that it will become legal in every state soon.
  4. Regardless of our opinion about legalizing same-sex marriage, we should be reaching out with love and respect to our gay and lesbian neighbors, coworkers, and family members.  They are people whom God loves infinitely, and we have an opportunity to help introduce them to Jesus and nurture their growth as a disciple.  The last thing we should be doing is bashing, insulting, or disrespecting anybody, including gays and lesbians.  To do so is to fail to reflect the love of Christ for them.

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Polling Trends on Same-Sex Marriage

  1. I have serious doubts about this claim, but I will say one thing that I believe is a major problem within the United Methodist Church and other denominations that have had this discussion now for 30 years or longer.
    I am convinced that a large part of the problem is an increasing number of liberal clergy who are unwilling or do not know how to preach anything other than a comfort gospel. Jesus didn’t offer anyone a comfort gospel, but clergy in the last several decades have decided that they needed to soften the gospel message and ease up on the call to challenge people to acknowledge their sin, confess it, repent of it, and turn their lives over to God as they are offered salvation in the name of Jesus Christ. Until we get back to that very basic gospel message and stop turning a blind eye to various sins, such as sex outside of marriage, homosexual sex acts, and lesbian sexual practices, this discussion will continue and the church will lose its credibility. Too many clergy are preaching for the primary purpose of filling the pews and the coffers of their offering plates. That is not and should not be the motivation for serving God as a minister of the Gospel, period

    1. For Methodsim and the main line churches all suffering losses in memberships, are they wondering how hungry mankind is for God’s Word and the disciplines of our Holy Father and why they seeking out and moving toward churches where the Gospel message includes the both the soft and hard teachings of Jesus and the apostles. I suspect many families are becoming real nervous about sending their children to churches and schools that are teaching bad behavior is ok and sexual immorality is no longer a sin. Jesus tells John and the angels in Revelation to remind churches of their duty to continue to be faithful and to do the good works they are doing and not to ignore or promote idolatry and sexual immorality that is being tolerated within some of these churches. John Wesley preached that, since these seven named were a few examples of many of the new churches in Asia Minor, that Jesus’ warning transcends churches throughout all the ages, not just those named in the Revelation.

  2. Holy Matrimony is of God. God gets to define it. Why do we allow God’s children to define themselves by a behavior instead of a child loved by God?

  3. I think that some of those who are switching from supporting the traditional concept to accepting same-sex marriage are just tired of the constant in-your-face whining and demanding of the GLBT? community. With the exception of the traditionalist’s responsibility under the concept of corporate sin, many of us are just tired of trying to help the GLBT?’s to find God’s promised joy, peace and grace through actually following Jesus as he sought to please God in all ways. In other words, “Let ’em go to hell if they want, but their loss won’t be ours also.” In light of the old saying about “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink;” we acknowledge that we have free will to accept or reject God’s Word. And who knows what or whether eternal destination the GLBT?’s may find, but Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, is the only name by which we — and me — might be saved. Earthly legality doesn’t change that, any more than legalization of abortion removes killing babies from the moral condemnation of murder.

  4. Wow Joe, you show your Christian love with your words.
    In your face? Is asking for equal treatment by your government for our relationship of 26 years in your face?
    Is asking to sit in Gods pew without you protesting and telling us we can go to hell wrong?
    Your judgment is cruel and you stand before our Lord just as I do.
    We are your children, your sisters and brothers, you parents. We serve a loving God and your words can not harm us for we Know the Truth.
    We will all stand before the Great Judge, I will profess His love for all mankind while you spit your harmful words.

  5. The problem is becoming that LBGTQMS?? won’t tolerate you holding to a view different from theirs. So many of them are becoming bullies and terrorists. They won’t let anyone hold a different view and don’t stop until they have destroyed people and businesses. Below is just one example of so many.

    It is getting to the point where the everyday folks will have to start doing the same things back (like Chick-fil-A)
    to keep from getting crushed. We are still acting as though they are the oppressed when the have become the oppressors eliminating all dissent with horrible tactics.

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