Straight Men Who Watch More Porn Are More Supportive Of Same-Sex Marriage: Research

02/05/2013 04:36 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

New research published in the peer-reviewed academic journal Communication Research found that watching pornography, at least among straight men, links to supporting same-sex marriage rights.

"Our study suggests that the more heterosexual men, especially less educated heterosexual men, watch pornography, the more supportive they become of same-sex marriage," Indiana University assistant professor Paul Wright told the Washington Examiner. Wright co-authored the study with Ashley Randall, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Arizona.

The Boston Globe reports that the study found men who had viewed more porn in 2008 were more likely to support same-sex marriage in 2010.

Specifically, the study abstract said, "Support for same-sex marriage did not prospectively predict pornography consumption, but pornography consumption did prospectively predict support for same-sex marriage. Education was also positively associated with support for same-sex marriage."

Why? Exposure to porn may cause heterosexual men to be more accepting of "non-traditional sexual situations." As Wright explained to the Examiner, if people think "individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether to have same-sex sex, they will also think that individuals should be able to decide for themselves whether to get married to a partner of the same-sex."

The theory that porn causes men to favor marriage equality was also recently argued by University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus, who gained notoriety in 2012 for a now widely denounced study that found children of gay parents were worse off than those of straight parents.

Part of Regnerus' argument was that porn disassociates sex from procreation. "[A]dd to the sharing of bodies temporarily and nonexclusively a significant dose of alternative forms of sexual activity -- positions, roles, genders, and numbers -- and that's basically where porn presses its consumers today: away from sex as having anything approaching a 'marital meaning,'" he wrote.

Regnerus cited data from the University of Texas at Austin's New Family Structure Study, which found that 54 percent of young men (ages 23 to 39) who viewed pornographic material "every day or almost every day" strongly supported marriage equality, compared to 13 percent of young men who watched porn "either monthly or less often than that."

Wright told HuffPost that his study bears no relationship to Regnerus' earlier work, and explained his motivation for the study, writing in its opening pages, "Given the documented benefits of marriage and the variability in support for same-sex marriage among individuals of voting age in the United States, research is needed that predicts support for same-sex marriage."

Recent polling shows that overall, regardless of porn viewing habits, men are less likely to support full marriage equality than women are.

This post has been updated with a statement from the study's author

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