The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) has released a poll touting a growing acceptance of same-sex marriage and a widening gap between younger and older Americans on the issue. The Arcus Foundation, a group whose primary mission is to advance the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality, provided the funding for the poll.
There has been controversy surrounding Jon Stryker, founder of the Arcus Foundation. Stryker is the gay billionaire heir to the Stryker medical device fortune who is far and away the largest national funder of LGBT causes, including these types of polls. A press release by PRRI confirms the Arcus funding, but claims the findings are those of the researchers and do not “necessarily” represent the views of Arcus.
According to the foundation’s website, Arcus “supports the efforts of religious leaders to create faith communities in which LGBT people are welcomed as equal members.” One of the strategies outlined by the group is to “organize and advocate denominational and institutional change.”
Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI, said the poll conducted 3,000 interviews from a cross-section of people in the U.S. with 1,000 of the interviews being conducted from individuals who use a cellular phone as their own means of communication.
“Overall trends and the strongly supportive attitudes of the Millennial generation suggest that we will look back on 2011 as the year marking a sea change in American attitudes on gay and lesbian issues,” Jones said in a press release announcing the results of the survey.
Jones told The Christian Post that the individuals interviewed whose primary means of communication is their cell phone is important if you are looking for a more representative sample of younger Americans.
“Many people are foregoing a typical land line phone and using their cellular phone exclusively as their primary means of communication. It’s more expensive to reach these people but we believe it provides us with a more accurate sampling as we are seeking to gather a wide sampling of thoughts and opinions.”
The poll results highlights a 20-point generation gap between what are known as millennials, or those between the ages of 18 to 29 years of age, and seniors who are 65 and older on every public policy measure in the survey concerning rights for homosexuals.
For example, the poll found more than 6-in-10 (62 percent) of millennials favor same-sex marriage, 69 percent favor allowing homosexuals to adopt children, 71 percent favor civil unions and 79 percent favor employment discrimination protections for homosexuals.
Among seniors 65 and older, only one in three favor legalizing same-sex marriage and only 31 percent favor allowing homosexuals to adopt children. A majority of seniors narrowly favored civil unions, however that support was significantly lower than millennials and the general population.
“This is the most diverse age group we’ve ever seen,” said Jones of the polls sample. “We found that if you have a close family friend, family member or co-worker you are much more likely to be sympathetic to homosexual issues. As you might expect, more younger people fall into this category.”
Jones pointed out that their results are showing a 47-47 overall spilt on those who support homosexual marriage, actually a drop from the last survey earlier this year, when a narrow majority supported same sex marriage. He also pointed out that for the first time other polls such as the ones conducted by Gallup, CNN and ABC/Washington Post are finding that a majority of Americas are okay with same-sex marriage.
Dawn McBane, manager of RisingVoice.com, whose mission is to reach out to millennials on current events and social issues, said she was not surprised at the results of the study given who was underwriting it.
“While we have seen a growing gap between millennials and older generations when it comes to their views on gay marriage, there are also some encouraging signs,” said McBane. “It’s true that millennials have a more favorable attitude toward gay marriage and yet this is a generation that desperately desires to get married and pursue the American dream through marriage and family.”
In the book, The Millennials: Connecting to America’s Largest Generation, a survey of 1,200 young adults showed that 86 percent planned to have one marriage that lasts a lifetime.
McBane pointed out that those reading poll results need to know who is behind a particular survey. “It’s also important to note that this study was funded by an organization that works to advance the gay agenda so it’s not surprising that the results skew significantly toward a non-biblical view of marriage and sexuality,” added McBane.
The PRRI survey also noted in the poll that 60 percent of African American Protestants and 76 percent of white evangelicals are still opposed to same-sex marriage.