07 April 2008

Support for Same-Sex Marriage, by Age Cohort

A generation from now, we'll look back in bewilderment that anyone could possibly care whether a gay couple wants to get married or not,


I'd say he's right. Here's a graph I produced recently from data from the 2004 American National Election Study.

Source: University of Michigan, Center for Political Studies (2004)

Some people like to claim that young people just support it because they don't know any better yet. But that wouldn't explain why my cohort--low 40s--is more accepting than my mom's cohort (late 70s). It's pretty clear, a multi-generational shift is occuring. I predict same-sex marriage is here to stay in Massachusetts, and will exist in several more states before I retire.

6 comments:

James K said...

This doesn't surprise me. Most social attitude changes are cohort driven. My maternal grandparents were increidbly racist (though I didn't find this out until after their deaths) but their attitudes were much more common when they were younger.

I half-remember some pointless Hollywood gossip story about a young actor (from High School Musical or something) where there was a rumour he was gay. His reaction to the story was essentially "meh, whatever". That captures the attitunal shift better than anything. The future will not be full of people who are passionate advocates of gay rights, it will be full of people who don't care to make a distinction between gay rights and straight rights.

James Hanley said...

I'd agree it's not surprising. But I'm sure you agree that it's nice to have some actual data supporting the belief.

Charlotte said...

Marriage is a basic civil right that should be attainable by all Americans if they choose. For the truth about gay marriage check out our trailer. Produced to educate & defuse the controversy it has a way of opening closed minds & provides some sanity on the issue: www.OUTTAKEonline.com

James Hanley said...

I agree marriage should be a basic civil right for all. I'm dubious, however, that anyone with such a strong stance on the topic could produce an video that would "open closed minds." Just by calling them closed minded, a confrontational attitude is exhibited.

Anyway, as far as I go, Charlotte's preaching to the choir, for whatever good that does.

James K said...

The very fact that cohort matters so much suggests that opening closed minds is largely a waste of time. You don't win the culture war by converting the opposition, but by waiting for them to die.

One of the Laws of Darkness is that, in politics, the opposite of talking isn't listening, its waiting.

James Hanley said...

"The very fact that cohort matters so much suggests that opening closed minds is largely a waste of time. You don't win the culture war by converting the opposition, but by waiting for them to die."

According to Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the same is often true of battles in scientific fields. And that's among the "open-to-new-evidence" set. So I doubt we could really expect more adaptability from those less well-trained in accepting new evidence.