This story in the NY times is a pleasant read among all the bad news in the digital papers these days. It shows that recent data reveal an interesting trend–support for same-sex marriage among all age cohorts:
[Between 2009 and 2012], according to Pew, support among baby boomers (ages 48 to 66) has grown to 41 percent from 32 percent; among seniors (over age 67) to 33 percent from 23 percent; among Generation X (ages 32 to 47) to 51 percent from 41 percent; and among millennials (ages 18 to 31) to 64 percent from 51 percent.
As Shamus and others have remarked, this is a very dramatic shift, which is very unusual for public opinion. Cohort turnover, rather than changed minds, explains most changes in opinion over time, but this issue is different.
I have done some work that shows a similar trend in attitudes toward homosexuality–attitudes changing in all age cohorts, in addition to generational turnover–and the story today reminds me of that time I was just fiddling around with those World Values Survey data. This was way back in time when the blogosphere was young: 2005. I didn’t really trust myself to do data analysis, and I checked in with Jeremy Freese to get some help with how to interpret the data. He asked me the million-dollar question (which I still have, thanks to gmail):
I wonder how much of the change for both of the countries is due to cohort replacement versus actual bona fide attitude change.
Thanks to that question, plus a boost to my confidence that I could do this work, I sought out a colleague and we got that publication. One more way that hanging around the blogs has supported my academic career. Thanks again, Jeremy! And thanks to the blogs, too.
Update: Here is a great collection of links from Council on Contemporary Families. These show that attitudes toward lesbians and gay men are changing in rural areas, among young evangelicals, and among African Americans and Hispanics. It also has a great list of recent research on the topic.