Age and same-sex marriage


Referring to the Lax/Phillips paper on same-sex marriage in the states I cited (in re: Catholic populations) a month ago, Ryan Sager dramatizes the age gap by noting: “If people over 65 made the laws, 0 states would have gay marriage; if people under 30 made the laws, 38 states would have gay marriage.”

Now consider this: Mainline Protestantism skews older than any of the other large American religious traditions–by a lot. According to the 2008 Trinity ARIS survey, the proportion of mainliners under 30 is roughly half the proportion of Catholics, white evangelicals, and African American religious folk (11.1 percent versus 21.3 percent, 20.7 percent, and 25.5 percent respectively). And whereas 58 percent of mainliners are over 50, the percentages for Catholics, evangelicals, and African Americans are 40.6, 41.7, and 34.5. (These data have not yet been published.)

And yet, old as they are, mainliners are the American Christians who favor full ecclesial equality for same-sex marriage partners: The United Church of Christ first, now followed by the Episcopal Church USA and (last week) the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Call it the triumph of values over age.