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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Opinions on Gay Marriage are Shifting for Everyone

Yesterday NPR pointed to new research from Pew that says people's opinions about gay marriage are changing.

Currently more people support gay marriage than oppose it (49% to 44%), which is a change from previous views. But the astounding statistic that comes out of this research is that 28% of people who currently support gay marriage used to opposed it.

It's a rarity in modern social and political spheres for people to so radically change their minds. What could cause such a shift in opinions on such a divisive topic?


People changed their mind on gay marriage because of a relationship with someone homosexual. It's much harder to oppose something when you put a face on it. It's much easier to change your mind when you do it out of care for someone.

Relationships change minds far more than statistics, logic, rhetoric, or pleading. Knowing someone and being known by someone is, perhaps, the most powerful way to convince someone. It creates a cognitive dissonance to see someone who seems good and to ascribe to them the label of evil. It's difficult to believe that gay people are bad when you know a good one.

Do you know any homosexual people? How has your relationship changed your mind?


Jake Shore said...

This kinda bewilders me. I know a few people who have changed their position on gay marriage because they met a gay person and decided gays weren't so bad after all, as if that was ever in question. I have relationships with all sorts of people who engage in behaviors I don't agree with or would want to institutionalize.

A member of my immediate family is gay. When this person came out, it never occurred to me to change my view on gay marriage.

The trend you're speaking of seems to suggest that people don't believe you can love someone while disagreeing with their point of view (or behavior). I find that disconcerting, but consistent with the culture these days.

I would argue another powerful factor in this shift has to do with the way the argument if framed. First, it is always framed as an issue of, and appeal to, equality, something we Americans have a natural sympathy for.

Secondly, in my view, the media (Hollywood and news) goes out of its way to portray gay people in the most positive light, while those who oppose redefining marriage are often attacked in the media, their point of view dismissed or ridiculed as ignorant and bigoted. How many movies have you seen where the gay person or couple is the healthiest, most well adjusted character/s? Or the gay person being interviewed by CNN is an attractive gay man in a long term monogamous relationship (not the norm), while the person defending traditional marriage is either shrill and hostile, or weak and ignorant.

James T Wood said...

Well said and your points are well taken.

My only rebuttal is that for much of the history of our nation homosexuals have been portrayed as sub-human, deviant, evil people.

Propaganda works both ways, I guess.