A growing number of religious groups are in support of gay marriage.
The Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) has released a study which found that 61% of Americans now support same-sex marriage more than double those who oppose it. Perhaps most striking, however, were the responses from people of faith. Steadfast opponents of marriage equality for years, faith groups are coming around at a surprising clip. Well, most of them anyway.
A whopping 97% of Unitarians and 77% of Jews now believe all marriages are equal before the law. Even more surprising is the increasing support amongst more traditionally conservative religious groups. Nearly two-thirds of Catholics, Orthodox Christians, and white mainline Protestants now say they're in favor of gay marriage.
However, white evangelicals and Mormons remain two notable exceptions to this trend. 58% of white evangelicals and 53% of Mormons remain staunchly opposed to letting gay people marry. Many simply cannot reconcile their religious teachings with homosexual relationships.
Gay couples are currently barred from the LDS church, and members who violate the church's ban on homosexual relationships can face discipline. Those who come out as gay are encouraged to "reform" and enter into heterosexual marriages though (unsurprisingly) such relationships are prone to failure.
In areas of the U.S. where evangelical faith has a strong grip on society, some county clerks still refuse to provide marriage licenses to gay couples a direct violation of the Supreme Court's 2015 ruling.
Winds of Change
However, as the graph above shows, even these groups are trending toward majority support. It may just take a bit longer for them to get there, explains the PRRI report. The research indicates that the next generation of LDS members and evangelicals will play a major role in this paradigm shift. As they grow into leadership roles within the church, this much more progressive generation of young people will likely push the dial toward acceptance.
"The God the Mormon Church worships has always been way behind the 8-ball. Expect more from your church than hate, people!" said one LDS follower who commented on a Salt Lake Tribune article about the study. "Kids are smart enough to know that the older generation's homophobia is cruel and hateful and there's no point to it," wrote another.
The stats seem to back this up. Amongst evangelicals, for example, twice as many young adults now favor same-sex marriage (53%) compared to those over 65 years of age (25%). More than half of Mormon millennials now support same sex marriage.
Freedom to Discriminate Up for Debate
In another sign that attitudes are changing, the study also found that six in ten Americans oppose the idea of businesses refusing to serve LGBT couples on purely religious grounds. The Supreme Court is currently determining whether a Colorado baker was legally entitled to refuse his services to a gay couple because their relationship violated his religious beliefs.
Mormons and evangelicals are once again outliers, with 53% insisting business owners should have the right to act in accordance with their faith and deny LGBT customers.
Impact on America
It's now been almost three years since gay marriage was legalized nationwide. Despite dire warnings from religious groups, the institution of marriage has shown no signs of crumbling to the ground. In fact, you could argue it's stronger than ever. Straight couples are still getting married at the same rate, and gay couples can finally enjoy all the benefits of entering a legal union.
It'd be difficult to find any tangible examples of social decay resulting from the change which flies in the face of all the fearmongering we heard leading up to the Supreme Court decision. Vulnerable children aren't turning gay by the droves. No gay orgies have been reported in the streets (well, that we know of). Straight marriages are just as meaningful as they've always been.
The PRRI report indicates that religious groups are slowly coming to this realization. The older generation of backwards thinkers are being replaced with younger, more compassionate generations who're increasingly willing to accept people as they are not as some ancient book decrees they ought to be.