This week, the United Methodist Church (UMC) rejected an LGBT inclusive proposal known as the “One Church Plan” in favor of the “Traditional Plan.” The Traditional Plan will continue the UMC’s practices of prohibiting Methodist churches from conducting LGBT marriages or ordaining LGBT members as clergy. The proposed One Church Plan would have allowed congregations and clergy greater autonomy about these issues.
According to the PRRI 2017 American Values Atlas, a majority of Methodists in the United States support same-sex marriage, though their level of support is slightly lower than that of the general population (61%). More than half (54%) of all Methodists favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally, including over one in five (21%) who strongly favor this, compared to just over one-third (36%) who oppose, including under one in five Methodists (16%) strongly oppose same-sex marriage.
Opinions regarding same-sex marriage do not differ by race among Methodists, with just over half of white (54%) and black (53%) Methodists supporting same-sex marriage and just over a third (35% and 39% respectively) opposing it. Male and female Methodists were also about as likely to support same-sex marriage (51% vs. 55%). Opinions on same-sex marriage also do not differ by region. More than half of Methodists living in the South (52%) and in other regions (53%) are in favor of allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally.
There are notable differences among Methodists based on education, with almost two-thirds (64%) of college graduates supporting same-sex marriage, including just under one-third (31%) strongly supporting it. By contrast, only half of Methodists without a college degree (50%) support same-sex marriage, including 17% who strongly support it. About two in five (38%) Methodists without a college degree oppose same-sex marriage, compared to 29% of college graduates who say the same.
There is also a significant generational gap among Methodists on this issue. Over two-thirds (69%) of Methodists under the age of 50 support same-sex marriage, while less than one-quarter (24%) oppose it. Just over half (54%) of those between ages 50 and 64 support same-sex marriage, while over one-third (36%) oppose it. Methodist seniors are split on the issue, with 42% supporting it and 44% opposing it. Self-identified Methodists are much more likely to be over the age of 50 (70%), including 37% over the age of 65. Meanwhile, only 6% of all self-identified Methodists are between the ages of 18 and 29.
There are also stark divides based on political ideology among Methodists. The vast majority (80%) of liberal Methodists, as well as a majority (55%) of moderates, support allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally. By contrast, conservative Methodists are split on the issue, with equal numbers favoring (45%) and opposing (46%) same-sex marriage.
There are similar partisan divides by political parties among Methodists. About six in ten independents (61%) and Democrats (58%) support same-sex marriage, compared to less than half (44%) of Republicans who support it and about as many (47%) who oppose same-sex marriage.
|Methodists’ Support for Marriage Equality|
|Do you strongly favor, favor, oppose or strongly oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally?|
|Source: PRRI 2017 American Values Atlas.
Note: These findings are based on self-identified Methodists, not necessarily members of the United Methodist Church.
 Analysis based on self-identified Methodists, not necessarily members of the United Methodist Church.