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Factors Influencing Perception on Same-sex marriage in the American Society Essay

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Updated: May 17th, 2019

Abstract

The topic of the same-sex marriage has attracted heated debate over the years in the USA. The protagonists and antagonists of this marriage institution have always clashed over the tenet of the same-sex marriage against the moral standards of the society. This paper supports the argument that marriage of homosexual couples should be allowed holding this view as a dependent variable.

Through case study research, this paper explores the independent variables of gender, ethnicity and religious affiliation and their influence on homosexual marriage. The scope of the research is restricted to perceptions of the participants of the research case studies on homosexual marriage.

Introduction

In defining homosexual marriage, anthropologists formulate valid cross-cultural variations of modern and traditional forms. Same-sex marriage, just like any other form of marriage, is a union of two adults, though of the same sex, in a domestic arrangement with each member having defined roles to play. Over the years, homosexual couples have raised debates in the conservative American society (Baker, 2010).

Specifically, religious and conservative groups have been the most active in opposing homosexual couples getting married (Hunter, 2012). Despite these divergent opinions, homosexual couples have spread across several states of the USA and is now legal in the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts (Sherkat, Vries & Creek, 2009).

Several strategies have been embraced by the supporters, sympathizers and activists of gay marriage to get support of the public on the need to stop prejudicing gay and lesbian unions. For instance, the assimilation approach has positively resulted on gays in the USA (Baker, 2010). The members of this group have managed to convince society on the need to co-exist by employing civil rights movements, public protests, and race riots as actualized by the Sin Sity Sisters of Las Vegas (Sherkat, Vries & Creek, 2009).

The dependent variable in this research paper is that homosexuals should have the right to marry one another. Specifically, the research paper will examine the independent variables of gender, ethnicity and religious affiliation on the same-sex marriage. Through reviewing the relationship between the same-sex marriage and these independent variables, it is possible to determine the occurrence of the same-sex marriage and its current position in the United States of America.

Literature Review

Ethnicity

Ethnicity or race has direct influence on individual perception of homosexual couples and same-sex marriage. Through mixed research and social surveys carried in 2009, Sherkat, Vreis, and Creek (2009) established that racial divide has direct influence on perception of homosexual couples.

Through survey interviews involving 180 participants from the white and African American communities with equal representation, Sherkat, Vreis, and Creek (2009) resumed that 70% of the respondents of African American origin opposed homosexual marriage as compared with the 30% opposition by the white American ethnic groups.

Specifically, within the African American respondents, the main reason for this opposition was cited as conservative family norms and Protestantism faith which cannot accommodate same-sex marriage (Sherkat, Vries & Creek, 2009).

On the other hand, 30 percent of respondents of the white race that opposed same-sex marriage argued that homosexual couples’ behavior was against the social norms (Sherkat, Vries & Creek, 2009). Generally, it is important to note that gender variation within each ethnic group of study did not affect the response rate.

Ethnicity has a strong influence on the perception of an individual on same-sex marriage. The authors were in a position to explain the impact of ethnicity as influenced by conservative norms and personal beliefs. This article provides a preview of the independent variable of ethnicity on same-sex marriage research.

Religion

Nearly all the societies seem to have more opponents of same-sex marriage than its proponents on the basis of religion. Specifically, religiously based opposition has constantly and openly fought against this practice.

Through empirical research involving 320 respondents from mainstream churches and protestant churches with equal representation, Baker (2010) indicated that 80% of respondents from Protestant churches opposed same-sex marriage citing religious conflict and bad influence it has on society as compared to 63% of respondents sharing the same view from mainstream churches in a sample of 320 religious respondents (Baker, 2010).

The author noted that in the previous voting for and against the ‘Proposition 8’ which was seeking to illegalize same-sex marriage, the predominantly Christian voters carried the day by winning at 52% in support of the ‘Proposition 8’while 48% voted against the bill. Besides, several exit polls have reaffirmed that position among the Christians as compared to other religious groups.

In fact, in an informal exit poll carried in 2010 in California, the author noted that the self identified church leaders had a support percentage of 81% for the bill against legalization of same-sex marriage (Baker, 2010). At the same time, the author noted that 84% of the respondents who confessed of attending church services frequently voted to support the ‘Proposition 8’.

On the other hand, only 17% of non-Christian respondents supported ‘Proposition 8’. It is important to note that religion has direct influence on perception of same-sex marriage (Baker, 2010). Generally, Christians who frequently attend church services are more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than non Christians or members of other religious groupings as it was observed in the Californian “Proposition 8’vote.

The Christian antagonists of same-sex marriage cited the breakdown of societal norms proving that it was leading to the emergence of destructive and traumatizing developments within the society which may have made young people seek comfort in same-sex relationships.

In response, the youth may resort to social tendencies of same-sex relationships as a protest leading to their categorization as same-sex couples in adulthood. The treatment of same-sex couples in the Christian society as outcasts and their exclusion from societal activities in the USA will not significantly change or come to the end in the near future. This article is critical in providing the current position of the independent variable of religion which is part of the scope of the research topic.

Gender

The male gender is more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than females when all the other factors are held constant. Through a case study research, Hunter (2012) found out that 67% of the male respondents opposed view of homosexual couples as compared 47% of female respondents in a sample space of 200 (Hunter 2012).

The author noted that the main reasons for strong opposition from the male gender was in the conflicts of gender roles since the traditional marriage define couple as a man and a woman who have specific roles to fulfill (Hunter 2012). A self-regulating society offers a facilitated explanation for the gender differences in support for same-sex marriage. The author is intrinsic to the above idea and is consistent in exploring possible reasons behind specific antagonist and protagonist inclination on same-sex marriage.

Hunter (2012) found out that the male members of the society expected gender conformity and based their argument on the roles to be played by each member of the marriage institution. However, the female population has more support for same-sex marriage than male gender due to changing role issues which the research could not explain (Hunter 2012).

Males are more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than their female counterparts, irrespective of other dependent and independent factors. Male gender’s opposition is mainly influenced by belief that the gender roles in marriage will conflict. This article presents an overview of the gender variable which will be tested in the research.

Hypothesis

In order to capture a comprehensive understanding of the perspectives related to same-sex marriage, it is essential to reflect on the factors that influences same-sex marriage among the young adults in America.

The first hypothesis of this reflective study is that individuals raised in loose religious foundation are more likely to support same-sex marriage than individuals raised in the normal traditional religious family consisting of a father and a mother. The momentous variances in type of religious family upbringing and same-sex marriage are critical in reflecting on the underlying factors that promote same-sex marriage.

As was indicated by Baker (2010), individuals raised in loose religion with the parents being homosexuals are likely to support same-sex marriage and may end up as homosexuals in adulthood. Specifically, the authors indicated that 80% of respondents from Protestant churches opposed same-sex marriage citing religious conflict and bad influenced to the society as compared to 63% of respondents from mainstream churches in a sample of 320 self confessed religious respondents.

The second hypothesis of this study is that ethnicity influences the perception on homosexual couples becoming legally married couples. It is possible that ethnic traditional societal norms for marriage and relationship may modify an individual’s views on same-sex marriage. Such an individual may struggle to conform to such values and avoid same-sex marriage.

As indicated by Sherkat, Vreis, and Creek (2009), racial divide has direct influence on perception about homosexual couples. In a social survey research carried out in 2009, they found out that the African American and the Latino ethnic groups had more opposing views on homosexual couples than other ethnic groups in America.

Specifically, the authors noted that the African American ethnic group had reservations on homosexual couples due to influence by their conservative culture and Protestantism faith. Specifically, 70% of the respondents from African American ethnicity opposed homosexual marriage unlike the 30% opposition by the white American ethnic groups.

The last hypothesis is that the support and opposition of homosexual couples vary with gender in America. Specifically, the male members of the society are more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than the female gender.

Through a case study research, Hunter (2012) found out that 67% of the male respondents opposed view of homosexual couples as compared 47% of female respondents in a sample space of 200. The author noted that the main reasons for strong opposition by the male gender was the conflicts of gender roles since the traditional marriage define couple as a man and a woman who have specific roles to fulfill. The female gender supported homosexual couples because of the changing roles in marriage.

Method

The design of this research was secondary data from the survey done by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC). Through social survey, the semi structured, interpretative, sample-based, and comparative in-depth interviews with key respondents was done over a period of two years from 1998 to 1999. Through qualitative data analysis, the study revealed explicit relationship between same sex marriage and the variables such as gender, religion and ethnicity.

Participants

The participants for the survey study carried by the National Opinion Research Center through General Social Survey (GSS) were of different ages. The survey targeted 25,000 participants from across the United States of America. The participants included the normal and special population groups. In the process of designing the survey and conducting the interviews, the researchers adopted the proportional sampling technique in selecting the households which qualify to participate in the research.

The result for each survey findings were draws without prejudgments from each participant. Since sampling was done across the entire continent, there was proper representation in expected findings. The participants of this survey study were English speaking adults of the legal age limit of 18 years and above. As prerequisite for participation, each participant was expected to be from a non-institutional household. The response rate in this survey was indicated as 71% (Davis and Smith, 2011).

Materials

The GSS used in this research had closed and open ended questions for the targeted participants on same sex marriage. The questions were designed to test the dependent variable which is ‘same sex marriage’ against the independent variables of ethnicity, religion and gender.

The questions on same sex marriage were directed to the participants who varied in terms of gender, religious inclination, and ethnicity. In addition, the GSS sheet had sections for personal demographic information of each participant such as age, gender, religion inclination and ethnicity. The predetermine responses for gender was female/male, religious inclination was Christian/Muslim/Atheist/Others, and ethnicity was White/Non White.

Procedures

Validity and reliability determines the accuracy of collected data in research. In order to achieve validity in questions presented in the questionnaire survey, the researchers carry out question pre-testing. The collected quantitative data was coded and passed through Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version seventeen.

In the process, cross tabulation was used to compare and contrast perception on same sex marriage in the US. In order to quantify the relationship between the independent and dependent variable, Chi-square was essential besides figures, charts, and tabular representation of correlation analysis.

In the analysis, the researchers adopted the independent approach under which each independent variable was tested against the dependent variable. For each independent variable, a frequency table was generated to explain the relationship as a percentage of the population.

The same step was repeated for the other independent variables after which cross tabulation was generated to represent the contingencies of the study. This was followed by Chi-square analysis of the results in order to test the null hypothesis for the three independent variables of gender, religion, and ethnicity.

The analysis focused on the disintegrating the variation among and between groups of independent variables. Therefore, Chi-square analysis was meant to establish if there existed a statistical equality between the mean of the three groups of data. The first element of the Chi-square was that it measured the variations between groups.

This part entailed computing the difference between the mean for each of each independent variable and the mean for the population. To reject the null hypothesis for each of the independent variables, the value of F- calculated was to be greater than the value of F – critical.

Results

The frequency tables generated were reviewed to find out the perceptions on same sex marriage within the US. The frequency tables generated displayed the perceptions on same sex marriage as varying across different ethnicity, gender, and religion. A close examination of the results revealed interesting relationship between same sex marriage and the three independent variables.

Specifically, for the independent variable of religion, 29.9% of the Christians strongly opposed same sex marriage, 5.8% of the Christians opposed same sex marriage, and 26.9% were neutral. Only 21.2% of the Christians strongly supported same sex marriage with 19.2% supporting the same.

For the non-Christians, 25.1% strongly opposed same sex marriage, 15.7% opposed same sex marriage and 12.7% being neutral. Interestingly, the same percentage as Christians strongly supported same sex marriage with 25.3% opposing this union. It is apparent that the Christians strongly oppose same sex marriage as compared to non Christians. Also, non Christians are the strongest supporters of same sex marriage as compared to the Christians.

In the second independent variable of ethnicity, the results revealed that the whites are the strongest supporters and the supporters of same sex marriage. Specifically, 24.4% of those who strongly support same sex marriage are white against 11.7% among the non whites. In the elements of support (agree), 24.0% of the whites supports same sex marriage as compared to 28.5% among the non whites.

The natural responses also showed clear variances among the whites and non whites. The neutral responses to the research question indicated that 12.6% of the whites did not agree or disagree with the research question unlike 15.1% among the non whites. The 23.4% of the non whites strongly disagreed with the research question against 25.7% among the whites.

In the element of disagree, the findings indicated that 13.4% of the whites disagreed with same sex marriage as compared to 21.3% among the non white respondents. In the general findings, 21.4% of the total sample population strongly agreed with the research question as compared to 25.0% who agreed. In addition, 25.2% strongly disagreed as compared to 15.2% who disagreed. The 165 respondents who had a neutral response represented 13.1% of the sample population.

In testing the third independent variable of gender, the female gender supported the same sex union more than the male gender. On the other hand, the male gender strongly opposed same sex union. Specifically, the responses of the male gender indicated that 17.6% strongly agreed, 24.6% agreed, 12.4% neither agreed or disagreed, 18.1% disagreed, and 27.4% strongly disagreed with the research question that homosexual couples should have the right to marry one another.

On the other hand, the responses of the female gender indicated that 24.6% strongly agreed, 25.4% agreed, 14% neither agreed or disagreed, 12.6% disagreed, and 23.4% strongly disagreed with the research question that homosexual couples should have the right to marry one another. As a percentage of the total population, 21.4% strongly agreed, 25.0% agreed, 13.2% neither agreed or disagreed, 15.1% disagreed, and 25.2% strongly disagreed with the research question that homosexual couples should have the right to marry one another.

The first hypothesis of this reflective study was that individuals raised in loose religious foundation are more likely to support same-sex marriage than individuals raised in the normal traditional religious family consisting of a father and a mother.

The number of Christians observed as supporting strongly supporting sex marriage was 26.9% (14 respondents) as compared to 25.1% (297 respondents) of the non Christians who strongly opposed same sex marriage. Among the 2001respondents, 2900 were missing. This led to rejection of this hypothesis. This discrepancy could not be ignored since the number of Christian respondents was less than 5% of the non Christian respondents.

The second hypothesis of this study was that ethnicity influences the perception on homosexual couples becoming legally married couples. The number of whites observed as supporting strongly supporting sex marriage was 1539 respondents as compared to 493respondents of the non whites who strongly opposed same sex marriage. Among the 2032 respondents, 2869 were missing. This led to rejection of this hypothesis. This discrepancy could not be ignored since the Chi-square expected count of 38.26 since the results indicated 29.498 score.

In the last hypothesis which stated that the support and opposition of homosexual couples vary with gender in America, the findings indicated that the male members of the society are more likely to oppose same-sex marriage than the female gender.

The number of males observed as supporting strongly supporting sex marriage was 891 as compared to 1986 of the female gender who strongly opposed same sex marriage. Among the 2456 respondents, 2786 were missing. This led to rejection of this hypothesis. This discrepancy could not be ignored since the Chi-square expected count of 75.96 since the results indicated 10.965 score.

Discussion

Same sex marriage has elicited opposing and support in the American society. The findings indicated that the variables of gender, religion, and ethnicity determine the perceptions of an individual towards this union. Generally, the male gender showed stronger opposition to this union than the female gender.

Besides, the whites supported same sex marriage more than the non whites. In addition, Christians strongly opposed same sex marriage by a higher magnitude than the non Christians. Among the concerns raised by those who opposed this union included ethical concerns, changed family roles and bad influence to the society. However, the supporters of same sex marriage noted that it is union of consenting adults whose rights must be respected.

The first hypothesis of this reflective study was that individuals raised in loose religious foundation are more likely to support same-sex marriage than individuals raised in the normal traditional religious family. This research was founded upon the study by Baker (2010) which concluded that individuals raised in loose religion with the parents being homosexuals are likely to support same-sex marriage and may end up as homosexuals in adulthood.

Same as the findings of Baker (2010), the research by the National Opinion Research Center indicated that Christians opposed same sex marriage by higher magnitude than the non Christians. Apparently, the variable of religion is an indicator of an individual’s perception on same sex marriage.

The second hypothesis of this study was that ethnicity influences the perception on homosexual couples becoming legally married couples. This confirms the study by Sherkat, Vreis, and Creek (2009) which indicated that African American and the Latino ethnic groups had more opposing views on homosexual couples than other ethnic groups in America.

Same as the findings of Sherkat, Vreis, and Creek (2009) the research by the National Opinion Research Center indicated that non whites opposed same sex marriage by higher magnitude than the whites. Apparently, the variable of ethnicity is an indicator of an individual’s perception on same sex marriage.

The last hypothesis was that the support and opposition of homosexual couples vary with gender in America. This confirms the study by Hunter (2012) which found out that 67% of the male respondents opposed view of homosexual couples as compared 47% of female respondents.

Same as the findings of Hunter (2012) the research by the National Opinion Research Center indicated that males opposed same sex marriage by higher magnitude than the females. Apparently, the variable of gender is an indicator of an individual’s perception on same sex marriage.

References

Hunter, N. (2012). The future impact of same-sex marriage: More questions than answers. The George Town Law Journal, 100(1), 1855-1879.

Baker, B. (2010). Same-Sex Marriage and Religion: An Inappropriate Relationship. e-Research, 1(3). Web.

Davis, J.A., & Smith, T. W. (2011) General social surveys, 1972-2010[machine-readable data file] /Principal Investigator, James A. Davis; Director and Co-Principal Investigator, Tom W. Smith; Co-Principal Investigator, Peter V. Marsden; Sponsored by National Science Foundation. –NORC ed. — Chicago: National Opinion Research Center [producer];Storrs, CT: The Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, University of Connecticut [distributor].

Sherkat, D., Vries, K., & Creek, S. (2009). Race, religion, and opposition to same-sex marriage. OpenSIU Journal, 91(1), 80-98.

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