5 reasons why some “nones” oppose same-sex marriage

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Photo by bringstar via Flickr creative commons

Photo by bringstar via Flickr creative commons

Photo by bringstar via Flickr creative commons

Yesterday, Pew Research Center reported on its latest poll on same-sex marriage that shows a continued religious divide. Religious folks oppose same-sex marriage, but among the so-called religious “nones,” support is almost unanimous.

Almost unanimous. 

As in other surveys, Pew found 15 percent of people who are not religious oppose same-sex marriage. This is smaller than the 40 percent ten years ago, but it’s a curious little group.  Why do people who eschew religion oppose gays and lesbians getting hitched?

Source: Pew Research Center surveys, report June 8, 2015.

Here are five reasons based on data from the General Social Survey (GSS). Since a handful of nones are people who are active in a religious group, but they don’t identify with a religion, I looked only at the 90 percent of nones who attend church once a year or less. Around one-in-eight of these nones opposed same-sex marriage in the latest GSS.

Here’s five reasons why some nones oppose same-sex marriage:

1. You must obey!

Most nones value individuals thinking for themselves when making decisions. But some value obedience. The GSS taps this by asking people how important certain traits are for children to succeed in life. Those who ranked “to obey” were three times as likely to oppose same-sex marriage.

2. Conservative, Republican nones

Saying that conservatives and Republicans oppose same-sex marriage isn’t surprising. But these aren’t religious conservatives. Among nones, ideology and partisanship still matter.

3. Age, but maybe not education

Another not-a-surprise: older nones are more opposed than younger nones. The impact of education is less clear. On the divide between supporters and opponents, there isn’t a significant difference between college graduates and those with less education. Among supporters, however, college graduates do hold stronger opinions than others.

4. Single, white, female supporters

There are other demographic differences. Opposition is greater among married people, racial & ethnic minorities, and men. Singles, whites, and women are each more likely to back same-sex marriage.

5. Times they are a’changing

Nones, like other Americans, are growing more supportive of same-sex marriage. In 2006, 72 percent of the nones supported same-sex marriage. By 2010, support was at 81 percent. Four years later, it was 87 percent. This fifteen point rise is independent of changes in other factors.

Geek note: Data included the 2006-2014 GSS. Each of the reasons listed were ones that were statistically significant in a model predicting opposition to same-sex marriage. This logit model including all of the variables simultaneously.

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  • This does not really answer the question posed about reasons some of us skeptical conservatives oppose same sex marriage. It only identifies a small number of demographic characteristics. That does not go very far in explaining much of anything.

  • Doc Anthony

    Honestly, as totally messed-up as America is now, I’ll take ANY good news that pops up regarding this particular topic. Grant’s article is indeed good news — for what it’s worth.

  • Larry

    The lack of rational positions put forth in opposition to marriage equality tends to make it vague. The author not willing to come out and say that it is largely a function of personal prejudices.

    Religion is not the cause of prejudices, it just makes them easier to justify in public settings. Many find it easier to say “God wants me to be a bigot” than to say “Yes I am a bigot”.

  • Rational positions are out there, Larry, I doubt, though, as a committed proponent of “marriage equality,” that you would seriously entertain them. Even most conservatives seem unaware of them. Most conservatives who feel passionately about the issue are religious and see homosexuality as a sin or, even worse, a punishment for sin. They are content with sloganeering like “Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.” (I do not possess, however, your ability to access their private conscious states and find that their religious convictions are simply fraudulent and a cover for bigotry.) Hers is a link to a non-religious case . . . http://chicago.ssrn.com/delivery.php?ID=131074121084085071090096005091107093109023030014084091014027005126030067108084005090035056097013011097115070069025020090019124027020011005061091103082112106008080093061020081064111082020113118022028125102113007004083031081069110081080031016090087083&EXT=pdf&TYPE=2

  • Similarly, I imagine that there are more complex arguments for same sex marriage that the “marriage equality” or “It’s my right” sloganeering from the left. But probably most progressives are content to follow their passions on this issue. And I, as a convinced opponent, do not have to interest to explore these argument, given my limited leisure time.

  • Larry

    No there aren’t rational arguments.

    There is a ton of special pleading, begging the question and a crapload of really terrible assumptions taken as a matter of faith. Your link is full of nonsense arguments. If you had a rational one to make, you would make it yourself instead of a blindlink.

    I can run down a list of often used allegedly rational arguments one by one if given the space. They boil down to:

    1. Half-baked arguments about “definitions” and “tradition” with nothing to support why such things need to stay as such

    2. The “procreation argument” which is both insulting and reductive of marriage and has never been held as the legal basis of marriage

    3. If bigots don’t get to ban gays you will be sooo sorry.

    Most importantly, not one alleged “rational” reasons points to a cause for gay marriage bans should be in the interest of the government.

    Conservatives go with it because they don’t want to alienate the Bible thumping vote machine.

  • Larry

    There is a very simple argument for marriage equality.

    Marriage rights are permissive absent rational and secular reasons not to be. Every form of marriage banned under laws cited by lazy “slippery slope” arguments have rational and secular arguments against them. None exist for gay marriage.

    Lets be even more brutally honest, if not for bigots being impatient and distrustful of voters, we wouldn’t be having this discussion for another decade. Had they not tried to institute gay marriage bans, equal protection arguments would not be in play. Had they relied entirely on voter apathy and veto power to keep gay marriage from being legalized, it would have been far more successful. It was purely spiteful and malicious attitudes which prompted the bans and is now the vehicle for national recognition of marriage equality. Blowback in its purest form.

  • sezit

    You, and all commented here are coming at this backwards. The survey question asks for endorsement of gay marriage. You all are treating the survey responses as rejection of the proposition. No. 15% who fail to endorse is very different than 15% who oppose. It misses out on other options. Maybe they prefer civil unions. Maybe they think marriage as an institution should be done away with. Maybe they haven’t thought it through deeply and this is a just a past opinion that has never been challenged, but they have no strong attachment to it. 15% is small enough to treat as non serious.

    And sorry…I have to correct your 5th sentence: eschew not askew.

  • mgw

    Great comments Sezit. I am not at all understanding why this question need entangle any religion. What on earth is wrong with civil unions? And what is the real question? Is it about opposition to (or lack of support for) a forced surveillance of 501(c)(3) organizations including churches? Are these would-be spouses ardent to enter into a legal union? Or are they ardent would-be converts to [CREED or FAITH OF CHOICE]? It seems more to be a forced mass conversion of all faiths and creeds in the US to a purely civil doctrine. A lessening of a right to practice one’s religion. Is this correct? Is it right?

  • mgw

    [REVISED] Great comments Sezit. I am not at all understanding why this question need entangle any religion. What on earth is wrong with civil unions? And what is the real freedom sought? Is it about opposition to (or lack of support for) a forced surveillance of 501(c)(3) organizations including churches? Are these would-be spouses ardent to enter into a legal union? Or are they ardent would-be converts to [CREED or FAITH OF CHOICE]? What is objective of the same-sex-marriage movement? Forced mass conversion of all faiths and creeds registered as 501(c)(3) in the US to a purely civil doctrine? Lessening of the right to practice one’s religion in a 501(c)(3) group. Is this correct? Is it right?

  • Larry

    “What on earth is wrong with civil unions? ”

    Its only suggested as a legally inferior form of union. Civil unions lack the recognition, uniformity, and default legal rights and obligations as a marriage. Akin to asking for “separate but equal” conditions. It is always separate, but never equal in status.

    Also, why bother when opposition was vehemently against civil unions anyway and full fledged marriage is available?

  • Thank you for confirming my first point–that you would not seriously consider the arguments in the link I provided. You have obviously given a great deal of thought to the question and you are convinced otherwise.

    That does not mean the arguments are not rational–unless by rational you mean “arguments with which Larry agrees.” Like all arguments, some are better than others. The fact that they are based upon reason rather than some alleged revelation makes them rational.

  • Same sex marriage bans came about because voter apathy and veto power appeared inadequate. I think what started the trend in legislation defining marriage as “one man/one woman” was judicial decisions legalizing ssm. States feared that ss couples married in other states might relocate; or a state’s own citizen might travel to another state for a marriage and then return. I remember this is what started the fight in California. That state’s family code never even defined marriage as “one man/one woman” until judicial decision went down in other states. They tried to proactively prevent it by passing laws explicitly defining marriage. Then the lawsuits began there as well.

  • Greg1

    Larry, you continue to rubber stamp gay marriage, but there is absolutely proof whatsoever that it will be societal neutral. I oppose it because God Almighty has given us the human race, and knows what is best for us, but from the psychological and civil perspective, the damage might be twenty, thirty years out. Do you make all your decisions in the same impulsive manner with which you are barking out “normalcy and marriage” for gay people? You seem like a very imprudent person.

  • And I think you dismiss the “procreation” argument too flippantly. Granted, the legal basis for marriage rest upon the idea of a contract, whose terms are rarely spelled out. In this modern era, state family codes spell out more explicitly the rights and duties (including the gender qualifications) of the partners, children, and in-laws. As such, marriage constitutes part of human social reality (that includes marriage, money, schools, institutions, government, etc.) And as such, we can define marriage any way we want. But the social reality of marriage rests upon biological reality. Men and women engage in sexual intercourse, give birth, raise their offspring, and create extended networks based upon consanguinity. Marriage customs and modern marriage/family laws rest on this reality. Homosexual couples cannot have sex (strictly speaking), cannot procreate, and cannot form extended family networks based upon blood relations. Why legalize such marriages?