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New Figures Show ‘Gay Marriage Tidal Wave’ Is Only a Trickle

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Insistent media messages claim surging and overwhelming public support for redefinition of marriage but recent numbers from major surveys and the Census Bureau tell a very different story.

In late September, a Pew Center poll found less than half of respondents – 49% to be exact – saying that they “favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally” – a sharp five point drop since February. Without the biased wording of the question, gay marriage might have received even weaker public backing: if a survey asks you if you want to “allow” other people to do something they say they ardently desire, you’d have to be deeply committed to traditional matrimony to say no. Had Pew asked “Do you want your government to redefine marriage so that male-male and female-female couples are treated identically to traditional marriages?” the response to sweeping change could have been still less favorable.

That’s particularly obvious in light of another surprising result in the poll: a full 50% of respondents agreed with the statement that “homosexual behavior is a sin,” including 77% of black Protestants and a crushing 82% of white Evangelicals. Moreover, the overall percentage of those viewing homosexuality as “sinful” has been soaring, not declining: it’s up from 45% in May of 2013. Considering the demographics in the 31 states that have so far resisted the nationwide push for gay marriage, it’s tough to imagine that these electorates, with their heavy concentration of Evangelicals and blacks, will endorse government sponsorship of same sex couples at any time in the near future.

Supporters of gay marriage consider such resistance irrelevant and cite the “tidal wave” of same sex couples who have already legalized their unions in the nineteen states that have changed their laws to back what sloganeers call “marriage equality.” In fact, the Census Bureau recently agreed to begin counting same sex unions as official marriages in their new figures of married vs. single people, and many experts predicted that these freshly minted gay couples would give the institution of matrimony a visible boost. Alas, the incidence of homosexual wedlock remains so rare that the overall percentage of adults who are married continued to decline –to 50.3%, an all time low –according the 2013 American Community Survey. At the same time, “same-sex cohabiting partners made up an even smaller share of 2013 households than in 2012.”

The official government figures suggest that 252,000 households were headed by same-sex married couples in 2013 –less than one-half of one percent of the overall figure of 56,000,000 marriages counted by the Census Bureau. Despite the fact that a majority of the US population and an overwhelming majority of the gay population now live in states that authorize same sex marriage, the numbers suggest that well below 4% of gay adults are currently married. That compares to slightly more than 50% of straight adults – an indication that the nation remains a long way from “marriage equality.” The heavily-hyped gay marriage tidal wave remains in actuality little more than a trickle.

One more aspect of the Pew Center survey similarly suggests that the march toward same sex marriage may not prove as inexorable as its boosters suppose. The pollsters posed the question: “At the present time, do you think religion as a whole is increasing its influence on American life or losing its influence?” Some 72% believed they saw declining influence for religious faith, but by an astonishing margin of 4 to 1 they identified this trend as a “bad thing” rather than “a good thing.” In other words, the American public sees religion with a diminished role in our national culture but they overwhelmingly prefer to see its old power restored or enhanced.

As recently as November, 2001, the figures on religious influence amounted to a virtual mirror image of their status today: in the aftermath of 9/11 and the “turn toward God” that many observers discerned,  Americans saw faith increasing its impact rather than reducing it by a lopsided edge of 78-12%. That advantage quickly evaporated along with the popularity of the Bush administration, while the relentless push toward gay marriage fed the growing perception that traditional faith had lost its clout. The same way that a few big events in the early years of the new century, and shifting political trends since that time caused radical reverses in attitudes toward religion’s role, it’s hardly inconceivable that public impressions could change again.

A few victories for supporters of traditional marriage, in court rooms or at the ballot box, could well convey the idea of resurgent religiosity. A clear majority of church-going Americans, after-all, currently affiliate with denominations that passionately oppose redefining marriage: Catholics, white and black Evangelicals, Eastern Orthodox, Mormons, Muslims, and Orthodox Jews. The great bulk of such believers tell pollsters they want a more vigorous role in public debates for their churches, synagogues and mosques. Just under half of all Americans already oppose gay marriage, 50% consider homosexuality sinful and close to 80% think it’s a bad thing for religion to lose its influence. With those figures in mind, it’s wildly premature to herald the movement to redefine matrimony as a sweeping and unstoppable force, and to write off all resistance as a futile gesture.

This column originally appeared at on October 1, 2014.

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Comments (14)

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  1. bill  •  Oct 8, 2014 at 1:23 am

    When looking at the poll “”, I did not see the same data as Mr. Medved, I see a trend toward acceptance of same sex unions/marriages. Some Mr. Medveds’ numbers are certainly true, but don’t tell the entire story. I suggest most people should read the poll itself.

    • mike parnell  •  Oct 11, 2014 at 10:41 am

      Mr. Medved is about as reliable on this topic as Dick Morris was correct on the 2012 election. Mr. Medved twists facts to support his bigotry. We will remember the haters.

      • dy  •  Oct 12, 2014 at 4:41 pm

        Mike sounds like he is threatening Mr. Medved for holding an opinion he doesn’t like. Rather bigoted I would say.

  2. m. scott  •  Oct 9, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Here is the problem. It doesn’t matter one bit what the American people think about same sex marriage. It matters what the courts are ruling. Even if 95% of Americans thought that there should be no law allowing SSM, liberal judges on federal courts have all taken the side of equal protection as a reason for SSM. And it would seem our Supreme Court is looking for ways to either dodge, or punt the issue all together. So, much as I (a Mormon) would not like to see laws changed to allow SSM, it does not seem as if there is any way to stop this train now. I wish more emphasis would have been placed on allowing same sex couples to have a legal contract that gave them all equal protections as married people have, but just not CALL it marriage. However, that now seems to be a lost option too.

    • Wlowe1  •  Nov 16, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Keep in mind that another wealthy and politically influential advocacy group had also hijacked and redefined marriage to include race – and that was white supremacists. By imposing race segregation into the definition of marriage, they were able to use that as leverage to force their racist belief system into the law and onto society thus effectively denying blacks their constitutional rights for several decades. We are seeing similar effects now we have allowed homosexuality advocates to redefine marriage to reflect their own belief system also.

      If we were able to take marriage back from white supremacists after centuries of their absolute dominance over American politics, law, and culture, then we can take marriage back from anybody – anybody at all. I don’t care how bad-ass they think they are.

  3. Mal Tomlin  •  Oct 10, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Even if one is frisky, the sum total of time invested in intimacy is a tiny fraction of the sum total of all other activities. Coitus is not the ground of a happy life – merely, a part of it.

  4. Audrey A  •  Oct 10, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    If gays were smart about the issue, they’d leave florists, photographers, and other businesses alone. We have all been very tolerant and accepting, but threatening people with civil and other legal actions for holding mainstream religious beliefs is making that acceptance pretty thin. Bad enough that militant gays disrupt public events, bad enough that their message is ramrodded through in almost every TV series and film, but…boycotts, fines and threats of jail? (if you don’t pay the fine) I grow more irritated with gays daily–which is sad because up until a few years ago, I was a staunch live-and-let live supporter of treating gays with the dignity and respect we should afford to everyone.

  5. george kaplan  •  Oct 10, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I’ve never thought of non-heterosexuals as being a separate class of people. We all, gay or not, have the equal right to marry…..but whatever, I am so sick of this discussion. You want to marry someone of the same sex, go ahead….then you can enjoy divorce court with the same equality as a traditional couple!

  6. Rose  •  Oct 10, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    It’s frightening that judges can legislate from the bench for the Left that the Left cannot get through elections or through legislature, clearly exceeding their authority as judges.

    It’s also frightening that something that is really a moral issue is treated as a civil right and people who are opposed to this clearly immoral lifestyle choice are now being heavily fined and treated as if they were huge bigots and in need of “re-education”when in reality, it is the supporters of SSM that are in need of education or just have the typical liberal bad habit of completely ignoring the inconvenient truths to any issue they push.

    No matter how many states allow SSM and no matter how respectable homosexual behaviors are treated by any society, that still does not take away the destructiveness of it nor does it change what the bible has to say what God has to say about these homosexual behaviors – “an abomination to God”. It won’t change the scientific/health reasons why the Red Cross won’t take blood from homosexuals and it won’t change what Proctologists have to say about how destructive homosexual behaviors are to homosexual’s bodies when they try to use the body’s refuse outlet as if it were a vagina. It also won’t change the fact that every single major world religion identifies homosexuality/lesbianism as immoral/wrong. No matter how many clerics approve of SSM, it only shows that they are not following the tenets of their religion.

  7. Peter  •  Oct 13, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    Thanks Michael for this article. As a traditional Catholic, I am deeply concerned about the increasing openness to the rise of another Sodom and Gomorrah in our own time. I note that even within my own Church there are a small number of those who feel that taking such a lifestyle choice out of the “sin” column would be desirable.

    Your article helped me realize that despite strong forces trying to influence public opinion in a variety of arenas, the overall picture appears a lot more hopeful than I was willing to entertain.

    Many thanks for your uplifting analysis, Peter

    • mike parnell  •  Oct 13, 2014 at 8:14 pm

      Hey Peter: I’m a gay catholic, and I think you are off base wanting your religion to dictate the laws of gay marriage. I believe that as of tomorrow, 31 states will recognize marriage equality. It’s a real landslide. But don’t worry: gay’s won’t demand to be wed in catholic churches: protestant ones are more attractive.

  8. Susan  •  Oct 21, 2014 at 12:28 am

    What continues to sadden me, even as I read the comments….those that are adamant about supporting gay marriage are not willing to give supporters of heterosexual marriage the right to have their beliefs. I’ve heard this so many times from the left, if you don’t believe the same way that I do about gay marriage you are a bigot, homophobic, a horrible unloving person and the list goes on. Coworkers who assume I share their views.go off on supporters of heterosexual marriage all the time. I quietly listen and remind them that not everyone shares their beliefs. When I say you have to give people the right to have their own beliefs.. the waters get muddy, I choose to be respectful and give them the right to their opinions and beliefs. Diversity is more than race, it includes religious beliefs and viewpoints. I would appreciate the respect that I give them to be given back to me.

    • mike parnell  •  Oct 26, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Susan: I agree that everyone has a right to his or her beliefs. But one does not have the right to change laws to hurt people. That is why I will personally shun those who would seek to harm me and my husband.

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