Opposition to same-sex marriage appears to be especially strong in communities in which traditional gender roles and family structure are dominant and, at the same time, a high level of population mobility, low homeownership rates and high crime rates are prevalent, according to a recent study by sociologists Rory McVeigh of Notre Dame and Maria-Elena D. Diaz ’05M.A., ’10Ph.D. of the University of Oklahoma.
The sociologists found that low homeownership rates and measures of residential instability, taken by themselves, are linked with less opposition to gay marriage. However, when coupled with traditional gender roles and family structure, their effect is reversed, intensifying opposition.
In their study, published recently in the American Sociological Review, McVeigh and Diaz argue that communities marked by these characteristics perceive gay marriage as one more threat to a community already under assault on several fronts. They note that sociological theory argues that such traditionalists “have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, [viewing] same-sex marriage and public acceptance of homosexuality as threatening to their own interests.”
In analyzing voting outcomes banning same-sex marriage on a county-by-county basis, the researchers found that opposition to gay marriage was weaker in counties with high median family incomes, higher levels of education, and higher percentages of the population enrolled in college and employed in professional occupations.
Opposition was stronger in counties having higher percentages of production and construction workers as well as higher public assistance income, although the latter finding was not statistically significant.
John Monczunski is an associate editor of Notre Dame Magazine.