Honey, I shrunk the bigots

A new study released today, and summarized by the Washington Post, shows that opposition gay marriage is shrinking, and now generally resides in only three pockets of Americans: white evangelicals; old people; and uneducated whites. The rest are basically on our side.

It’s no wonder that Republicans are increasingly divided over marriage equality. As with immigration, it’s becoming increasingly clear to a growing number of Republicans that they’re not only on the wrong side of history, they’re on the wrong side of politics.

gay marriage

Family via Shutterstock

Hating on gays, like hating on Latinos, isn’t winning the GOP many friends at the ballot box. And the friends it is winning are either disappearing (old people), poor and thus not a great donor base for the GOP (uneducated whites), or despised by everyone to left of Attila the Hun (white evangelicals).

None of that is a recipe for future political success outside of Alabama.

They study, released today by Freedom to Marry, is interesting since it was undertaken by a Democrat and a Republicans: The guy who led Obama’s polling in 2008 and 2012; and the guy who did the same for George W. Bush.

Old People

The study shows that people over the age of 65 overwhelmingly oppose same-sex marriage.  But those under 65 favor gay marriage 54 to 44.  And with every year, that pool of over-65 voters who don’t support gay marriage will shrink as they slowly die off.


White evangelicals hate us.  No surprise there.  But the Post noted a fascinating fact: “[E]very non-evangelical group — other white Protestants, white Catholics, Hispanic Catholics, African American non-evangelicals and Jewish voters — expressed support for such unions by double-digit margins.”

And even African-American evangelicals were split 45 for, 47 again.  You know we’re winning the culture wars when black evangelicals are coming around to our side.

It’s almost funny to think back less than a year ago when the big debate was whether African-American voters were going to desert President Obama because of his open embrace of same-sex marriage.  Then came the November elections and not only did Obama do fine among blacks, we even won marriage in a state in which black Democrats have a large influence, Maryland.

Rather than Obama’s position on marriage equality pushing black voters away, it appear that the opposite happened.  The President helped woo some black voters to our cause.

The infamous wedge that the religious right was hoping to drive between gay Democrats and black Democrats never materialized.  Someone we all just got along.

Another group we long-worried about, Latinos, in part because of their strong Catholicism, have also proven to be remarkably supportive, with a PEW poll last year showing a majority of Latinos support same-sex marriage, 52-32.

White Uneducated

The last pocket of support that the haters have is among white voters who don’t have a college degree.  Though even 40% of them support gay marriage.  And I suspect they’ll face the same pressures from youth who become increasingly tolerant as time moves on.

I think it was Andrew Sullivan who wrote, or perhaps told me, once, years ago, that we were going to win gay marriage in a few generations, simply by attrition.  The old bigots were going to die off, and young people who support us would eventually become old people who support us.  What amazes me is that while I thought it might happen a few generations after my death, I never thought it would happen in my lifetime.

CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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25 Responses to “Honey, I shrunk the bigots”

  1. caphillprof says:

    I think we tend to forget the tyranny of the closet. There are a lot of homosexual acts among lower class whites which are hidden, often involving brothers, cousins or nephews, with one or more of the parties leading double lives. This world is threatened by gays being gays and the normalization of gay relationships. This too will change.

  2. caphillprof says:

    It’s more than balance. The press continues to be the keeper of public morality but now is losing as the internet has democratized the news. The press always found sex to be prurient and would write in such a manner that any sex act, even among married adults, was extremely salacious. The press is the only reason that politicians can be crucified for heterosexual sex with somebody other than their wife.

  3. UncleBucky says:

    Oh, no fear! I was just making a point in the context! :)

  4. John,

    I would email this if I had found any way to contact you privately instead of post it as a comment, but I didn’t.

    This article is hard to read, even for a non-native English speaker like me. Is your proof reader sick today ?

    “it was undertaken by a Democrat and a RepublicanS”

    “Someone we all just got along” Hmm, somehow maybe ?

    I’m less sure about those next 2, but hey, I’m just one of those 40% of white voters without a college degree, and non-native even. But they still seem odd :

    “Another group we long-worried about, Latinos, in part because of their strong Catholicism, have also proven to be remarkably supportive,”

    Shouldn’t it be “have” since group is singular ?

    “a majority of Latinos support same-sex marriage, 52-32.”

    Again I believe it should be “supports” since majority is singular.

  5. Sweetie says:

    Right, because almost no one makes spelling or grammar errors. That clearly means that anyone who does lacks credibility.

  6. Sweetie says:

    No, it’s because of ratings. Look at how much times the word GAY appears on the cover of tabloids. The media doesn’t give a fig about balance.

  7. BeccaM says:

    While I agree wholeheartedly that we’re winning the demographics battle, LGBT civil rights nevertheless remains at risk from what I’m now calling the “tyranny of the minority.”

    It’s true that the gay-haters achieved remarkable success over the last 20-30 years simply by pushing every measure out to a popular vote — whether it was to pass some anti-gay law or to repeal a pro-gay measure passed by their legislature or ordered by a state court. With the evolving demos, this strategy won’t work anymore.

    However, in many states and even among the Feds, they can still fall back upon their other project, which has been to gerrymander GOP candidates into every office and to nominate/elect the most right-wing judges imaginable. Just consider how many people are firmly in favor of both abortion rights and the right to contraceptives — and yet the GOPers are passing law after law legislating them out of existence. And we now have a Supreme Court that seems to be leaning against overturning Roe v. Wade and finding a religious right to object to contraceptive medicine coverage in private insurance. Scalia’s already said he thinks states should be free to pass anti-sodomy laws if they want to, and there appear to be at least three other justices who agree with him.

    I’ve said this before: What is popular, what has been polled as a preference for the majority, is not necessarily what we get from our gov’t, especially not when a radical right-wing minority has been rigging the elections game so they have a majority of the power and a mushy center-right Dem majority is inclined to let that rightward ratcheting continue unabated.

    The other factor here is something we’re already seeing. While popular support for LGBT rights (and women’s rights, workers rights, and immigrant rights and real religious freedom, including freedom FROM religion) appears to be growing, the opposition to this is hardening. Those wingnuts who are homeschooling their kids using the Bible and out of textbooks from Bob Jones Press are teaching them hate, intolerance, xenophobia, and the eager embrace of anti-science Luddite-ism. In other words, these people and the younguns they’re indoctrinating are only going to be more fanatical than the casual bigotry we’ve had to deal with in the past, more willing to do whatever it takes to hang onto the levers of power and to enact their agendas of oppression.

  8. Grammardalek says:

    I hate to be ‘that guy’ but the grammatical errors in this article are out if control! It kind of hinders your credibility when you clearly can’t be bothered to proofread.

  9. nicho says:

    University? Try grammar school and high school. One of the main goals of most home skoolers is to keep their kids away from people who are different — whether it’s race, religion, whatever. There are parents who can do a better job than the local schools. I have friends who have home-schooled their kids, very successfully, but these were well-educated, multi-lingual parents who provided a diverse environment for their kids. A lot of the religious home-schoolers don’t want their kids associating with anyone who is a person of color, not a wing-nut Xtian, etc.

  10. Bose says:

    Yeah, it seems to me that the 40-and-over crowd (I’m 53) has had more of an option to stay put in the home town, keep a similar social circle as high school, and limit exposure to stuff that feels foreign. It’s harder to hang onto everything you “knew” at 18 once you’ve moved around more, do college, travel, etc. For 20-somethings today, though, having all your peers be internet-aware makes it impossible to be as insulated. So, the non-college-bound 20-y/o people today aren’t on a path to mirror non-college-educated 40-y/o folks in a couple decades.

  11. A_nonymoose says:

    Yah. I’m hoping to retire to Blue America in a few more years. My wife is from Chicago, so that’s a possibility.

  12. Tennessee, there’s a surprise.

  13. LOL It was something Andrew had said probably in the 1990s, and was either to me, or something he wrote, or both. So I didn’t want to write it and not give credit.

  14. I use “gay” because I have to for google searches etc.

  15. Right, even among uneducated whites, more people have to be coming out, and changing minds. You know, it almost makes me wonder to what degree education isn’t the issue, but rather going to a university is the solution. Just like with the military, university’s are huge melting pots, where you’re thrown in with often thousands of other kids, and your horizon’s broaden.

  16. Bose says:

    When I think about the non-college-educated white group, it’s not clear to me how they account for 20-somethings who are or are not college-bound.

    I lived in a long-challenged neighborhood in the 90s where revitalization was barely starting. There, the teens and 20-somethings were just as challenged as their parents had been, and similarly not college-bound (or, by definition, college kids got out of the neighborhood). The group of young folks I got to know were much more like their peers in acceptance, with friends who were bi, gay, or fluid.

    True story: I had a few sexual encounters with a 30-ish neighbor, an ex-con who had emerged from prison a little more, um, flexible than he went in, and didn’t mind identifying as bi. He lived with his not-so-functional mom, who I’d been friendly with before she found out her son & I were spending time together. She remained a dear to me, said my being gay was no problem, maybe because I was an outsider of sorts. But, she fought with her son mercilessly about how he should only be with women.

    So, when I think of non-college-educated whites, and numbers suggesting they’re non-supportive, my experience with her comes to mind. She was coming around, if reluctantly, because it was unavoidable in her own environment. She would have answered a poll question negatively, but it was less about gay people and more about the uncomfortable breakfasts she’d had with the trans woman her son brought home a couple times.

  17. UncleBucky says:

    “I never thought it would happen in my lifetime.”

    Well, it WILL very soon, and I’ll drink to that! ;o)

  18. UncleBucky says:

    I don’t favor “gay” marriage. I favor EQUAL marriage! ;o)

  19. GDad says:

    If wishing for a positive outcome has any effect, I hope my wishes for a sane legislature help out.

  20. nicho says:

    It’s due their misguided policy of what they think is “balance.” For years, they had been convinced that any time they reported on a research study linking smoking to illness and death they had to then give time and space to a representative from the tobacco industry to pooh-pooh the report.

  21. Don’t confuse something you said with something Andrew Sullivan said. Give yourself some credit.

  22. A_nonymoose says:

    Unfortunately, if you live in a southern state, as I do, bigotry is alive and well: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20130305/NEWS21/303050062?nclick_check=1

  23. S1AMER says:

    You omitted one of the most significant groups still working against us: The national press, which still gives significant air time and ink to those working against us. They wouldn’t lend credence to an anti-semitic neo-nazi, or to a racist ku-kluxer, but they still treat the most rabid homophobes as persons to be listened to.

    As long as the press believes homophobia to be a legitimate political viewpoint, we’ll continue to lose some battles.

  24. Leota2 says:

    It is amazing how a dying electorate manages to scream like banshees and wreak havoc
    wherever they see sanity. Their strategy is to rage into the dying of the night and hope they

    do enough damage to topple everything. They will fail.

  25. Hatfield says:

    This is of course good news for us, that the core of the GOP is withering away. However, for such a damaged and shrinking political group, they do manage to control quite a bit of the country.

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