Race, Religion, and Opposition to Same-Sex Marriage


  • *Direct correspondence to Darren E. Sherkat, Department of Sociology, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901〈Sherkat@siu.edu〉. Data from the NORC General Social Surveys were made available through the Interuniversity Consortium for Social and Political Research. Data and program codes for replicating this research can be obtained from the corresponding author on request.


Objective. We examine racial differences in support for same-sex marriage, and test whether the emerging black-white gap is a function of religiosity. We explore how religious factors play a crucial role in racial differences, and how secular factors have varying effects on attitudes for whites and African Americans.

Methods. Using data from the General Social Surveys, we estimate ordinal logistic regression models and stacked structural equation models.

Results. We show that the racial divide is a function of African Americans' ties to sectarian Protestant religious denominations and high rates of church attendance. We also show racial differences in the influence of education and political values on opposition to same sex marriage.

Conclusions. Religious factors are a source of racial differences in support for same-sex marriage, and secular influences play less of a role in structuring African Americans' beliefs about same-sex marriage.