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Georgia State University

Same-Sex Marriage: Congress and “the People” at Odds?

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The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday voted to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.  As Margasak of the Associated Press states, the repeal is extremely unlikely to get a majority vote before the full Senate or House of Representatives, and it is primarily a symbolic gesture for the Democrats to “show part of their liberal base of backers that they strongly support equality in federal benefits for gay couples.”

While the overwhelming majority of Congress may support the Defense of Marriage Act, research by GSU Sociology Professor Dawn Baunach paints a different picture of the U.S. populace:

Baunach, D. (2011). Decomposing trends in attitudes toward gay marriage, 1988-2006. Social Science Quarterly, 92(2), 346-363.

Using data from the General Social Survey, Dr. Baunach examined the attitudinal changes toward same-sex marriage from 1988 to 2006.  Her findings indicate:

“Attitudes significantly liberalized over time; 71 percent opposed gay marriage in 1988, but by 2006, this figure dropped to 52 percent…This pattern was replicated across many subgroups of the U.S. public, including age, sex, residential, educational, and religious groups…The results suggest that the use of the ‘equality/tolerance’ framing of gay marriage by its supporters and other societal events or ‘moments’ may have convinced some people who used to disapprove of gay marriage in 1988 to approve of it by 2006.”

Read Dr. Baunach’s article to learn more about her findings, and explore via our Discover Search the variety of resources addressing the same-sex marriage debate.