Statistically, Same-Sex Marriage Must Be a Christian Value
Many of the laws that seek to limit the rights of same-sex couples have their basis and support in the idea that such relationships are against Christian values. The truth is, there is no way that is statistically possible.
Here in Texas our ban on same-sex marriages was recently ruled unconstitutional, just the latest in a remarkable series of rulings by federal judges across the country that are sweeping the nation. In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer vetoed a law that would have given business owners the right to refuse service to LGBT people as a matter of religious freedom.
Religious freedom is an interesting way that opponents of same-sex marriage have used to describe the reasons for their opposition, and proponents of more equality of LGBT people tend to accept the idea that the more religiously-minded in America are automatically going to stand against them in this fight. The story of the struggle for gay rights is framed as close-minded zealots versus godless, perverted sinners.
However, there is no way in which the math can add up to that.
The most important thing to remember is that the public opinion on the subject of same sex marriage has changed dramatically within the last 20 years. In 1996, when Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law only 25 percent of Americans actively supported marriage between anyone but a single man and a single woman.
However, just ten years later a Pew Research Center study found that opinion had already begun a radical shift. Not only had support risen to 39 percent, but opposition had dropped to 51 percent with 10 percent still being unsure. Pew has continued to track this issue up until the present day, and the trend is undeniable. In 2010, support reached 43 percent, and in 2012 it hit 47 percent.
The most current data from the best poll sources show that support of same-sex marriage now constitutes a majority of Americans. In July of last year Gallup recorded support at 54 percent, as did a Public Religion Research Institute poll conducted in December. Though it's possible to argue source bias and the Bradley Factor (The idea that some may not wish to express their opposition to pollsters for fear of being considered prejudiced), the overall numbers across all historical measurements show a steady and consistent increase in acceptance of same-sex marriage.
This story continues on the next page.
Now, America is overwhelmingly a Christian country. An American Religious Identification Survey in 2008 found that 76 percent of Americans identified as Christians, and a 2012 Pew report showed that 36 percent attended weekly services. Other religions (Muslims, Jews, Hindus, etc) make up about 4 percent of the population, with the non-identifying/non-religious portion of the population being the second most numerous group at around 15 percent.
Those numbers tells us that even way back in 1996 when only 25 percent of population was opposed to the Defense of Marriage act, even if every single non-religious person in the country was pro-gay rights you would still need at least one in every ten Christians to agree with them to make those poll numbers happen.
Today that number increases to one in four, and that's just by assuming that absolutely no non-religious people are against same sex marriage.
In other words, the sheer number of Christians that make up America shows that a pretty significant number of them do in fact support the expansion of marriage rights to same-sex couples. In terms of denomination one in four American Christians means either half of all Protestants, or every single Catholic in the country.
I'm not here to argue about what the Bible does or does not say about homosexual behavior. I let Dr. L. Michael White, the holder of the Ronald Nelson Smith Chair in Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Texas do that for me. What I'm trying to show is that claiming that by its very nature same-sex marriage is an affront to American Christian values is an unworkable hypothesis. Acceptance of the idea has advanced too much for it to merely be sustained in poll numbers by non-religious people, and in fact that was never feasible to begin with.
By virtue of the math, same-sex marriage in the United States has always had a place in the hearts of some Christians, and their numbers are growing.
Get the Theater Newsletter
Get a rundown of upcoming theater events and ticket deals in Houston.