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When voters are asked "do you support gay marriage", about 60% say yes. In addition it said only 50% of Black adults/reg voters support it, while 60% of white and Hispanic voters do.

This runs squarely in the face of partisan identification. About 90 per cent of Black voters normally support Democratic candidates, while only about 40 per cent of White voters do nationwide.

Why is this gap here? It seems to have to do with religion but I want clarification.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JJJ Jun 15 at 22:05
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    @Number File Why is this Question here? It seems to have to do with a basic misunderstanding of statistics or politics but perhaps you could find a home for it under Religion. If you're suggesting black Democratic voters are supposed to be for or against gay marriage, what evidence is there for that? – Robbie Goodwin Jun 16 at 0:05
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    One could just as well have asked why at least ten percent of the republican voters are in favor of the marriage. Doesn't that seem to be ïnversely" too? Or one might have asked why the blacks vote democratic while on an arbitrary subject (to be found) they vote like republicans will. Why the emphasis on gay marriage? Because religion is involved? – Viesik Jun 16 at 9:23
  • @Viesik can you suggest an arbitrary subject that shows a similar relationship? – Jontia Jun 16 at 16:54
  • @Jontia Crime prevention? – Viesik Jun 16 at 16:56
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African Americans vote Democratic mainly because of civil rights issues, on which many believe the modern GOP has (shall we say) a somewhat poor track record. But setting that aside, African Americans are significantly more religious than whites (83% to 61% absolute certainty in the existence of God, heavily concentrated in the Southern Protestant Christian denominations), with a consequent resistance to socially liberal policies like gay marriage. See Pew Research's Religious Landscape Study, and in particular Pew's Views About Same-Sex Marriage. .

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – JJJ Jun 14 at 14:55
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    In relation to this, I do think Anthony Pinn's views (youtu.be/uNNqLytwRaQ) on why atheism isn't catching on as much in black communities are very interesting. In short (if I surmise correctly) the church plays an important role in black communities that is not easily fulfilled by other organisations -- just to be clear, I think the views are interesting, not necessarily that they are correct. – Claude Jun 14 at 18:06
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    I think you need to make a distinction between social LIBERAL policies, which would be things such as welfare & government-paid medical care, and socially LIBERTARIAN policies such as gay marriage, marijuana legalization, and the like. – jamesqf Jun 14 at 22:01
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    I think most people already know this, but not all modern denominations of Christianity oppose gay marriage. So the relevant fact isn't just belief in a God, it's the other teachings that go with that belief, for the denominations which many African Americans belong to. (But yes, the bottom line in this case is that there's some religious basis. And the more liberal denominations that support gay marriage are usually not ones that promote "absolute certainty" in belief either, I don't think. But that's just my impression as an atheist with former connections to the United Church of Canada) – Peter Cordes Jun 16 at 11:30
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    @Viesik: The church approves, promotes, and defends marriage as an established moral institution. Any change in that institution is bound to be contentious and to meet strong opposition; it isn't specifically about 'gay marriage'. Consider the acts of divorce, which gained no traction until the Protestant Reformation, was (and still is) contested and opposed by various religious authorities across centuries, and is still prohibited in Catholicism, and outlawed in Vatican City and the Philippines. – Ted Wrigley Jun 17 at 13:04
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Voting Democratic doesn't mean you support every plank of Democratic policy. The Democratic party consists of three main wings in an uneasy coalition:

  • The traditional white working class: in favour of economic redistribution by strong unions, high taxes and strong social safety nets. However they are socially conservative; they oppose gay rights and are at best ambivalent about liberal abortion and policies to reduce racial inequality. This group used to be the backbone of the Democratic party, especially in the South, but Nixon's Southern Strategy peeled many of them away and even more have now gone over to Donald Trump.

  • Black people: strongly in favour of policies to reduce economic and racial inequality. This overrides their unease at liberal abortion laws and gay rights.

  • The Brahmin Left: wealthy people with University degrees, mostly white. Strongly in favour of gay liberation, liberal abortion laws, reduction in economic and racial inequality, rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and pretty much every other leftish cause you can think of.

The Brahmin Left have always had an outsize influence due to their education, money, spare time and concentration in the cities. Their numbers are growing thanks to the spread of University education, which tends to make people more liberal. This leads to tension between the socially progressive views of the Brahmins and the socially conservative views of the rest of the party. Gay rights are simply one aspect of this tension.


As with my previous portrait of the Republicans, this is a very broad-brush approximation. There are lots of people who sit somewhere in between these three poles, and others who don't really fit the model at all. In particular, its perfectly possible to be black and in favour of gay rights. Its just not part of the traditional thinking of that wing of the party.

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  • "Their numbers are growing thanks to the spread of University education, which tends to make people more liberal". This quite a claim. The correlation between education and liberal views is fairly well established, but this is a very direct claim of definitive causation. I'd be interested in looking into sources that support this claim. Got any? – Clay07g Jun 17 at 15:30
  • @Clay07g The IDEALS study found that University does cause a distinct liberal shift in student's views, although falling far short of the "indoctrination" claims of conservatives. There was also a greater appreciation that people with opposing views (both ways) have legitimate points of view. independent.co.uk/voices/… – Paul Johnson Jun 17 at 17:11
  • Appreciate it. Although I prefer reading actual published studies to summaries, especially ones from sites like Independent (notoriously biased). I couldn't find it, though. While that study is a far cry from making such a definitive claim (confounding variable possibilities, mild results, no replication, the fact that not voting for trump doesn't make anyone more liberal, etc), I guess this isn't a statistics or science Exchange. – Clay07g Jun 17 at 18:56
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The main error you're making here is to assume that Black Democrats are primarily on the left of the political spectrum. In fact, a plurality of Black Democrats identify as moderate (44%) and nearly as many identify as conservative (25%) as liberal (29%) (numbers from this poll). What's true is that since the passage of the Civil Rights Acts, Black people overwhelming vote Democratic regardless of ideology. This is especially clear in the South, where the percentage of Black voters identifying as conservative reaches as high as 45% (see this poll).

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