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13 Weird and Interesting Observations From the Marriage Equality Survey

03/03/2014 08:51 am ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

Recently, a large-scale study on the demographics of marriage equality came out. Some of the data in it was pretty much in line with what other polls are saying. However, with the vast amount of data collected, there were some things in it that were either illuminating, or just struck me outright as weird.

1. It's all over but the crying. Pennsylvania and Florida support marriage equality at the same levels as New York and California. Six in 10 Catholics and mainline Protestants support it as well. Even if the courts weren't deciding this one, we would be a majority marriage equality nation within a few years anyway.

2. The issue is even more divisive than in 2004. The gap in support for marriage equality between Republicans and Democrats, men and woman, Blacks and whites, evangelicals and mainline Protestants, and most other groups has actually gotten wider in the past decade.

3. "Yeah, well, yeh get weirdos in every breed" Eleven percent of LGBT people oppose marriage equality, and 15 percent think the GOP is friendly to the LGBT community.

4. And the winner of the oppression Olympics is... When asked if various groups (gays, Muslims, Jews, Evangelicals, Blacks, etc...) face a lot of discrimination, transgender people were seen as the group facing the most discrimination, with 71 percent of respondents answering, "yes, a lot of discrimination." While 65 percent of survey respondents report having a close friend or family member who is lesbian or gay, only nine percent report having one who is transgender.

5. Living in a conservative bubble. The study showed that overall, most people (53 percent) favor marriage equality. However, of those people (41 percent) who say they oppose marriage equality, 85 percent say that most of their family opposes it as well. The vast majority of opponents of marriage equality (62-21 percent) believe that the country is on their side. While 65 percent of Americans now have a family member or friend who is lesbian or gay, most opponents of marriage equality do not. Millennials and democrats were much more likely to have a lesbian or gay family member or friend, as well as have an accurate idea of public opinion.

6. You know the "winning hearts and minds campaign" has failed when... In a survey of 4509 LGBT Americans, there wasn't a single self-identified Mormon. A sample of the general population should have found about 90. Eight percent (~360) did identify as "born again" or Evangelical, though.

7. What planet are you from? Thirteen percent of respondents think that the Mormon Church is friendly or very friendly to LGBT people. Five percent think that the Republican Party is "very friendly" to the LGBT community.

8. Talking points from Uganda. Forty-Six percent of self-identified Tea Party members believe that the Republican Party is friendly to the LGBT community. This could mean a couple of things. Given Tea Party dissatisfaction with the GOP establishment for being too liberal, it could mean some think the Republican Party is too friendly to the LGBT community. It could also be that some are applying the Ugandan definition of "tolerance,"in that the Republican Party platform isn't actively advocating for recriminalizing being gay.

9. People see themselves as more LGBT friendly than they probably are. More Republicans see their party as friendly to LGBT people (45 percent) than unfriendly (40 percent). More Evangelical Protestants see their church as LGBT friendly (39 percent) than unfriendly (24 percent). The only group which supports marriage at a lower rate than Evangelicals (Black Protestants), sees their churches as LGBT friendly 53 percent of the time.

10. So that's why the polls on marriage equality are usually wrong! The group most likely to feel passionately about marriage equality is its opponents, 41 percent of whom say the issue is critical to them personally. Only 14 percent of marriage equality supporters say the issue is critical to them personally. This may explain why marriage equality does much worse on election day than in the polls beforehand, since initiatives on marriage equality are much more likely to draw opponents out to vote than supporters. (It's also why bringing marriage equality to the ballot in Ohio in 2014 is probably a bad idea).

11. Losing my religion, and you have no idea it's your own fault. It is old news that Millenials are leaving organized religion and becoming part of the "nones" at a very high rate. When millenials do leave a religious faith, 31 percent of the time anti-LGBT dogma is at least partly to blame. Seventy percent of Millennials believe that religious groups are alienating young people by being too judgmental about LGBT people. What is interesting is that leaders in these organizations appear to have no clue that the exodus is their own fault; only 41 percent of Evangelicals and 33 percent of members of the silent generation believe that religious groups are turning off young people with their hostility to LGBT people.

12. Licking the third rail of politics. Among all religious groups surveyed (except the "nones," who were overwhelmingly in favor to begin with), support for marriage equality has grown slowest amongst Black protestants over the past decade (11 percent increase, compared with 26 percent for Mainline Protestants). This may be related to the finding that Black Protestants are by far the most likely group to see being gay as a result of upbringing and environment, and not an inborn trait (63 percent - 19 percent)

13. Opposition to marriage equality has increased with one demographic group. While the religious "nones" tend to be one of the most supportive groups of marriage equality, opposition within has increased from 18 to 26 percent since 2003. That still leaves them the second most likely group to support it, in any event (behind only Jewish-Americans).