Are Arizona Legislators Out of Sync With The Electorate On Homosexuality?

Arizona's legislature recently passed a "religious freedom" bill that would allow business owners to deny services to anyone, including same-sex couples, for religious reasons without risking legal retribution. Law-makers in Kansas, Tennessee, Oregon, Idaho and South Dakota are also considering similar bills.

But a 2013 Pew Research Center survey suggests that such bills may not have the backing of the American public.  According to the survey, 72 percent of Americans believe that legal recognition of same-sex marriage is "inevitable."  Even among those who say that same-sex marriage would go against their religious beliefs (who represent about 56 percent of the sample), about half nevertheless believe that gay couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexual couples.  According to the Pew Research Center report, "[t]he rise in support for same-sex marriage over the past decade is among the largest changes in opinion on any policy issue over this time period" and reflects a growing acceptance of homosexuality generally-speaking.

Support for same-sex marriage has increased most markedly among Millennials (those born since 1980 and age 18-32 today), but the change has occurred in all age groups, including those in the Silent generation (born between 1928 and 1945).  When asked why they changed their minds about same-sex marriage, 32 percent said they did because they know someone who is gay; 25 percent said their personal views changed as they have grown older and thought about the issue more deeply; 18 percent said that the world has changed and that this kind of shift is inevitable; and 18 percent said that people should be free to choose what makes them happy and that they no longer think the government should be involved in people’s personal lives in this way.  Another 8 percent believe in equal rights for everyone.

While the trend toward greater acceptance of same-sex marriage is undeniable and confirmed by every major national survey organization, it is worth noting that question wording does appear to influence the level of support.  The question "Do you think it should be legal or illegal for gay and lesbian couples to get married?" says the Pew report, "has consistently elicited a higher level of support for same-sex marriage [than the question "Do you favor or oppose allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally?"].

Read more: resources:
Age and Attitudes about the Rights of Homosexuals: A Data-Driven Learning Guide (
Trends in Marriage Behavior (

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