The Future of gay marriage

So, presumably you’ve heard that the Obama administration is no longer going to defend the Defense of Marriage Act.  I found Jeffrey Toobin’s explanation of the legal concepts really interesting, but if you’re not into the difference between strict and rational scrutiny, it’s probably not up your alley.   Everybody loves a good chart, though.  To that end, I made a couple based on 2008 National Election Study data on gay marriage.  I simply looked at the percentage of respondents who supported gay marriage or civil unions (because lets be honest, symbolism, etc.,  aside, they are functionally the same thing as a legal matter) by income in quartiles and age group under 30, 30-59, and 60+.  And here’s what we get.  First income:

The richer you are, the more supportive you are of gay marriage and civil unions.  Okay, then, on to age:

And, the younger you are, the more supportive.

Alright then, a couple of things we know.  1) Rich people are more likely to get their policy preferences turned into actual policy than poorer people.  2) Older people are going to die and younger people are going to move into positions of political power.  3) At some point in the not-too-distant future, the facts of #1 and #2 mean that gay marriage/civil unions will be a fact of public policy, and not all that big a deal.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

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