Does Acceptance of Gay Rights Mean We’re Becoming More Secular?

Earlier this month, the New York Times made the bold (and very true) claim that President Barack Obama‘s support among LGBT voters practically won him the election. Obama beat Gov. Mitt Romney three-to-one among the 5% of voters who identify as LGBT, according to exit polls, constituting “more than enough to give him the ultimate advantage.”

The United States is undoubtedly shifting to become more gay-friendly — but does that mean the country is shifting toward the secular, too?

Adrian Tippetts of the National Secular Society seems to think there’s a link between them:

The demographics of diversity and declining religiosity will force the GOP to embrace inclusiveness or die. Pandering to a white evangelical base won’t work because the USA is becoming ethnically diverse at a fast pace: collectively, ethnic, religious and sexual minorities make a third of the population and growing; of the 0 to 18 age group, whites make up less than 50 percent.

Tippetts explains that the politicians who adamantly oppose marriage equality and other measures for LGBT rights (namely Romney and the motley crew of other Republican presidential hopefuls from earlier in the race) are the same people adhering to a strictly religious, often-evangelical perspective when it comes to social issues. (A longer version of his article can be read here.)

Essentially, the anti-gay crowd is the same as the pro-Creationism crowd, and they’re losing.

Fox News’ exit poll of religious voters sends a warning: weekly churchgoers favoured Romney 59–39, while occasional congregants went 55–43 for Obama. But the latter outnumber the former, and the gap is set to widen.

Perhaps the most shocking and uplifting statistic of all shows that even Christian voters are aligning with liberal viewpoints on social issues, further alienating the “traditional values” Republican Party (emphasis mine):

While Catholic priests and bishops broke the law by telling their followers how to vote from the pulpit, more than four out of five Catholic voters feel no obligation to heed their instruction at the ballot box (pdf). The same Fox survey shows that only 16 percent of Catholic voters think gay marriage is an important issue. And even among evangelicals, the one voting category to whom the Republicans have focused their efforts in appealing to, Obama’s share of the vote has actually risen, from 27 to 30 percent since 2008.

Given the absurdity of this campaign season and the ultimate outcome of the election, it seems obvious that we need a more secular America in the future — and in the next four years, we’re likely to get one. Only time (and strategists) will tell if the GOP will take the hint and loosen its grip on the evangelical rhetoric, but judging by this election’s results for LGBT people, Tippetts says, we might just be heading for smooth, secular sailing.

About Camille Beredjick

Camille is a twentysomething working in the LGBT nonprofit industry. She runs an LGBT news blog at gaywrites.org.


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