The Wedding Cake Theory of Gay Marriage

THE WEDDING CAKE THEORY OF GAY MARRIAGE….Why do people oppose gay marriage? Is it because they value traditional gender roles or because they just don’t like gays? Richard Thompson Ford suggested in Slate last week that it was the former (the “wedding cake” theory), but to my surprise it turns out there’s some halfway reasonable data available to test this point. Over at Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell has posted a quickie analysis from John Sides that pretty clearly suggests homophobia is far more to blame:

The results suggest that both attributes have a significant effect on attitudes towards gay marriage. So Ford is right, up to a point. HOWEVER, feelings towards gays have a much stronger effect on attitudes toward gay marriage.

When one shifts from strongly opposing equality for women to strongly supporting equality (i.e., the maximum possible shift on this scale), the probability of support for gay marriage increases by about .26. That is to say, the change that one will support gay marriage increases by 26%.

When one shifts from strong aversion to gays/lesbians to strong affinity for gays/lesbians (i.e., the maximum possible shift on this scale), the probability of support for gay marriage increases by about .74.

As Steve Labonne notes in comments, this is dog-bites-man stuff. Still, it’s always nice to see the actual evidence, no?