Byron Johnson: No Empirical Evidence Ties Being Pro-Marriage to Anti-Gay


Sociologist Byron Johnson at Baylor University argues in Public Discourse this week why being pro-marriage does not mean you are anti-gay:

A recent national survey by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) provides a closer look at public opinion on same-sex marriage. The survey was funded by the Arcus Foundation, an organization that champions the rights of gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual persons.

... The media coverage of the PRRI survey, however, has painted a very different picture of the findings, drawing the more general conclusion that younger Americans are pro-gay while senior citizens are anti-gay. But does the PRRI survey, as well as other recent national surveys, provide data actually supporting such a conclusion?

... If older Americans are indeed anti-gay, one would not expect 90 percent of senior citizens to support equal employment opportunities for homosexuals.

...Simply put, it is inappropriate on methodological grounds to draw the conclusion that opposition to same-sex marriage is synonymous with being anti-gay.

...There is indeed a significant gap in support of same-sex marriage when one compares all Millennials to all senior citizens. However, when one looks at the views of Evangelicals toward same-sex marriage—a group estimated to be 100 million strong—a considerably different picture emerges. Being an Evangelical Protestant significantly lowers the chance one will agree with gay marriage in either age range, and brings the 18-to-29 age group down to a level of support similar to all others in the 65-and-over age range. Perhaps Evangelical churches are doing a better job combating the considerable cultural influences in support of same-sex marriage.

It is unwarranted and irresponsible to interpret opposition to same-sex marriage as a proxy for being anti-gay. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that senior citizens are anti-gay.