American Muslims Are More Tolerant Of Same-Sex Marriage Than Evangelicals

Gay marriage’s public support has come a long way since the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, the law which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Now, just two years after the Supreme Court overturned DOMA and legalized marriage equality nationwide, American Muslims are significantly more supportive of same-sex marriage than evangelical Christians, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Center.

Forty-two percent of American Muslims support gay marriage, while only 28 percent of evangelical Protestants do the same.

Only Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have lower support, with 26 percent of Mormons supporting gay marriage and 14 percent of Jehovah’s Witnesses saying the same.

Buddhists, Jewish people, and “unaffiliated” people have the highest support levels, with 80 percent or more of each group supporting same-sex marriage. But even traditionally hostile groups like Catholics and Orthodox Christians poll over 50 percent support levels. Fifty-seven percent of mainline Protestants also gave favorable views to marriage equality.

Fifty-three percent of all adults in the United States support marriage equality, while 39 percent oppose.

Digging deeper into the data, generational splits appears. Evangelicals are older, whiter, and much more settled in the United States. Baby boomers make up the plurality of evangelical Christians, with some 35 percent of all evangelicals classified as baby boomers, or the generation born in the post-war ’50s and ’60s.

Muslims, while a much smaller share of the population, are overwhelmingly millennial or younger, with some 81 percent of Muslims aged 49 or younger and 44 percent in the very young cohort of 18-29. They’re also overwhelmingly immigrants at 64 percent.

Increasing support for marriage equality
More and more Americans of all faiths support marriage equality. [Image by Ty Wright/Getty Images]
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There is a clear generational divide on same-sex marriage, with older, Silent Generation voters being the least supportive living generation, while younger millennials are the highest. Baby boomers are the second lowest supporters of same-sex marriage, with 56 percent supporting compared to 74 percent of millennials.

In other words, younger Muslims are adopting attitudes very similar to the rest of their national cohort, at least on the issue of same-sex marriage. That contrasts starkly with overseas intolerance of same-sex marriage in many Muslim countries, where homosexuality can still be punishable by death in places like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, and Afghanistan. Yet according to this data, fears of imported intolerance are vastly overblown.

More Muslims support same sex marriage than Evangelical Christians
Mormons, Christian Evangelicals, and Jehovah's Witnesses remained unsupportive of marriage equality. [Image by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images]

[Featured Image by John Moore/Getty Images]