The Psychology Behind Opposers of Same Sex Marriage
Written by guest writer, Audrina Benson.
In the aftermath of the May 8th election in North Carolina, voters were reminded once again of one of the most pressing issues in social policy today - same sex marriage. Though the amendment was passed, effectively only ending recognition of civil unions and other domestic partnerships since gay marriage was already banned in the state, Obama became the first American president to support gay marriage. If Obama’s views can, as he says, “evolve,” why can’t so many Americans?
Studies have shown that people who are outspokenly against gay marriage are affected more viscerally by images they perceive as off-putting. This could imply that homophobia and opponents of same sex marriage are prone to a knee jerk reaction; rather than further investigating the unfamiliar, they react off first impressions.
Probably the most influential element of psychology at play with those who vote against gay marriage is “motivated reasoning.” Because of indoctrination into intolerance, as well as the aforementioned visceral reaction, they look for emotional reasons to validate their opinions. In the end, the facts don’t matter - gay and lesbian parents are as fitting of parents as heterosexual parents; the legalization of same sex marriage in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont has not unraveled the fibers of traditional marriage. What matters is a passionate defense to the adherence of every member of society to a comfortable worldview.
A recently released psychological study by Richard and William Ryan has shown what has been joked about for years - the more homophobic you are, the more likely you are to be gay. Homophobia is often a reflection of hatred of oneself, specifically, a hatred towards something that is perceived of as “wrong.” The researchers extrapolated that this is the thought process at work behind some of the more notable sex scandals in conservative Republicans.
Despite recent controversy, many analysts expect that Obama’s position will not change voting behaviors significantly. Though they may be opposed to gay marriage, there are very few single-issue voters who will be dissuaded from voting for Obama by only one of his platforms. However, some voters feel his timing is suspect. Is Obama pandering, or finally standing up for what he believes in? If he wins re-election, both sides will be watching to see how Obama proceeds to address the issue. Yet according to current research, he is not motivated by homophobia. It is left to the opponents of same sex marriage to check their own judgements of homosexuals.