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The Conservative Evolution of Gay Marriage

While 57 percent of people under 30 see gay sex as "morally acceptable," only 46 percent of them would say the same about having an abortion.



Americans are now evenly split on same-sex marriage: 47 percent support marriage rights for gays and lesbians, and 47 percent oppose them. That stalemate won't last long—critics of gay unions are dying off. According to a new report from the Public Religion Research Institute, only 31 percent of Americans over age 65 support gays getting hitched, compared to 62 percent of Americans under 30.

But strong millennial support for gay marriage has not translated into an uptick in acceptance of other sexual freedoms, like the right to an abortion. The Public Religion Research Institute notes that popular support for keeping abortion legal has dipped a percentage point since 1999, and young Americans are not swelling the ranks of abortion rights supporters. Today, while 57 percent of people under 30 see gay sex as "morally acceptable," only 46 percent of them would say the same thing about having an abortion.


The institute calls this a "decoupling of attitudes." Support for same-sex marriage and abortion rights have traditionally gone hand-in-hand, and that's changing. Though young people today are "more educated, more liberal, and more likely to be religiously unaffiliated" than their parents—all factors traditionally correlated with support of abortion rights—they are not actually more likely to support abortion.

Here's one explanation for the decoupling: Youth support of same-sex marriage does not reflect an embrace of progressive values, but rather an expansion of conservative ones. Over the past several decades, the mainstream gay rights movement has aligned its priorities with fundamentally conservative institutions: Gays and lesbians want the right to get married, adopt children, and serve in the military. These family-friendly, all-American demands appeal to the conservative base, and work in direct contrast to the lingering stereotyping of gays as promiscuous Communists. Today, support for gay marriage is nearing 50 percent among even the most conservative of American youth, like Republicans and white evangelical Christians.

Reframing abortion rights as a family value is a trickier sell. Though about one-third of women will abort a pregnancy in their lifetimes—a figure that spans age, ideology, and religion—many who have undergone the procedure remain in the closet. And the increasing acceptance of gay marriage among conservatives may not help the cause. After all, the anti-abortion movement has now found a key ally in gay Republicans.

Photo (cc) via Flickr user laverrue

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Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

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