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    December 18, 2006

    A north-south divide on marriage

    Posted by: Chris

    A new survey that polled Europeans about a wide range of social issues found views on gay marriage split largely along north-south lines, much as they are in the U.S.  Overall, 44 percent of citizens in the 25-country European Union support gay marriage for the whole continent, but the number is deceptive. 

    In Holland, the first place worldwide gay couples could marry, support is 82 percent, compared to tallies below 20 percent in several eastern and southern European countries.  Other countries follow a similar pattern; backing for gay marriage is high in Sweden (71%), Denmark (69%), and Belgium (62%), but falls in Romania (11%), Latvia (12%) and Cyprus (14%). 

    Support for gay marriage is at about one-third in the U.S., with support much higher in New England and the Northeast, and of course most Canadians support their government's decision last year to make equal marriage rights the law of the land. Having grown up in the American South, I would attribute the conservative intransigence to conservative religious views, inferior public education and a prideful lack of curiosity in cultures other than their own. 

    The more progressive Europeans, who also typically live in the more prosperous E.U. nations, have used the prospect of E.U. membership as a way to influence social policy in southern and eastern Europe.  The national Democratic Party has had a similar influence, though palpably less strong, in the U.S., more on race and gender than on sexual orientation.  As support for full legal equality for gays grows rapidly among Democrats in the the northeast and west,  the more conservative midwest and south will eventually be dragged along, though not as quickly as across the pond.



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    1. Daniel on Dec 18, 2006 9:10:57 PM:

      I would like to see you use your knowledge and run for political office to help change the system.

    1. Alan on Dec 19, 2006 9:26:58 AM:

      Having grown up in the American South, I would attribute the conservative intransigence to conservative religious views, inferior public education and a prideful lack of curiosity in cultures other than their own.

      I have never understood the pride rednecks take in their own ignorance and bad manners.

      Being dragged along is what scares them about the misnamed "judicial activism."

    1. Andoni on Dec 19, 2006 2:02:57 PM:

      Great data!

      Here are some broad, though imperfect generalizations. Those countries (or regions of this country) where there are religions that permit its followers to actually think, rather than blindly obey (e.g. Catholicism and Southern Baptist) are more progressive on gay issues and gay marriage. This fits for a lot of Europe where the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, England are progressive Protestant and the Southeast is mainly Catholic and Orthodox. An exception is Catholic Spain where gay marriage is legal and people seem OK with it.

      In the U.S. the most venomous anti gay marriage region is the old South, which has a predominance of Southern Baptists. My observation is that Southern Baptists like to control their followers’ minds as much as the traditional Catholic Church.

      A second generalization is that this data seems to support the principle similar to “once you know someone who is gay, you tend to become less anti-gay.” That is, in the countries that actually have permitted gay marriage, more people are now getting to know married gay couples and as a result, the percentage of people supporting gay marriage continues to grow. Also, in these countries people have seen first hand that the claims that gay marriage would ruin traditional marriage were absolutely untrue.

      The fact that upsets me the most is that with the track record of enlightenment demonstrated by the Catholic and Southern Baptist Churches, why does anyone give them any credence? The Catholic Church was demonstrably slow to accept Newton, Galileo and Copernicus. Both churches were on the wrong side of Darwin, slavery, segregation and women’s rights. With this track record, why do they have ANY credibility left?

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