Nov 6, 2013

White evangelical's opinions on the civil rights of gays and lesbians

Polling shows a significant number of self-identified white evangelicals dissent from what the most prominent leaders have said is the biblical Christian position on marriage. Among white evangelicals, there's a minority that supports legal recognition of same-sex relationships:
  • 26 percent support same-sex marriage
  • 23 percent think Americans should be able to sponsor same-sex spouses for citizenship
  • 30 percent think the federal government should recognize same-sex marriages
This is not a minority opinion if one looks at white evangelicals under 35. Among that younger cohort, 51 percent support same-sex marriage.

There may be more that support civil unions, but the poll did not ask about civil unions. White evangelical support for legal protections of homosexuals is stronger when the issue does not involve marriage. Rates of support for other issues are higher:
  • 31 percent support allowing same-sex couples to adopt
  • 59 percent support protection against job discrimination for gays and lesbians
  • 65 percent support protection against job discrimination for transgender people
A separate poll looked specifically at Ohio and found very similar numbers there, on the state level, as are seen nationally. This is significant in that indicates the differences are likely not regional. Ohio isn't the Bible belt, but neither is it Oregon or Massachusetts. Among self-identified white evangelicals in Ohio:
  • 25 percent support amending the state constitution to allow same-sex marriage
  • 30 percent support same-sex marriage
  • 56 percent support protection against job discrimination for gays and lesbians
Interestingly, among all Americans, 44 percent say homosexual sex is a sin and yet, at the same time, that gay and lesbian relationships should be socially acceptable.

That's a position one doesn't hear represented often in the public debate over these things. The variety of beliefs and opinions, "on the ground," so to speak, is varied, nuanced, and would appear to involve tensions not normally spoken of in the national debate.

Sources: PRRI (1, 2, 3).