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Slim Majority of Methodists Support Same-Sex Marriage
Topics: LGBT

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[1] 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?
Favor Oppose Don’t know/

Refused (VOL.)

N=
All Americans 61 30 9=100 40017
Methodist 54 36 10=100 726
         
White 54 35 10=100 553
Black 53 39 9=100 119
Non-College 50 38 11=100 500
College 64 29 8=100 224
         
Female 55 33 11=100 418
Male 51 39 10=100 308
         
18-49 69 24 7=100 128
50-64 54 36 10=100 233
65+ 42 44 13=100 365
         
Conservative 45 46 8=100 308
Moderate 55 32 12=100 216
Liberal 80 15 5=100 158
         
Republican 44 47 10=100 217
Independent 61 29 9=100 222
Democrat 58 32 10=100 248
         
South 52 36 12=100 349
Non-South 56 35 9=100 377
Source: PRRI 2017 American Values Atlas.

Note: These findings are based on self-identified Methodists, not necessarily members of the United Methodist Church.

 

[1] Analysis based on self-identified Methodists, not necessarily members of the United Methodist Church.