In response to my recent postings (here and here) on the correlation between Catholic presence and support for same-sex marriage (SSM), I’ve received an interesting (yet unpublished) paper from Darren Sherkat of Southern Illinois and some colleagues conjuring via regression analysis with a number of factors involved in the politics of the issue over the past two decades. The money finding is that whereas just about everyone was in the same place on SSM in 1988 (Democrats and Republicans, Catholics and Protestants), now opposition has become locked into GOP identity.
That is to say, the most Republican groups in American society (including those Sherkat et al. call “sectarian Protestants”–i.e. your basic white evangelicals) oppose same-sex marriage at the same rate that everybody did 20 years ago. The problem for the GOP is that everybody else has moved toward acceptance–including Catholics, most of whom continue to identify as Democrats. Opposition to SSM, in short, has become a mark of Republicanism–not a good thing if you’re interested in expanding the party, as the proportion of Americans opposing SSM continues to shrink.