A new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds that half the nation considers New York’s new gay marriage law as a positive development, while 46 percent view it in a negative light. But buried within those numbers are deep divisions related to political affiliation, race, age and religion.
For instance, Republicans broadly reject the law by a 2 to 1 margin. But among Tea Party Republicans, 70 percent have a negative view of the new law. In contrast, only 45 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans reject the law.
This finding underscores that the Tea Party is not a libertarian movement, as its adherents and the mainstream press characterize it, but rather a right-wing reactionary movement.
The finding also explains why Texas Gov. Rick Perry was forced to backtrack after expressing the view that New York’s same-sex marriage law was fine with him from a states’ rights perspective. Perry came under fire from the Tea Party for the remark and has spent the past few days insisting that he supports a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality.
There’s a similar fissure within the Democratic Party on the issue. Liberal Democrats view the law positively by an overwhelming 74 to 25 percent margin. A smaller 54 percent majority of moderate and conservative Democrats say the same.
But among African Americans, a loyal segment of the Democratic Party, more than six in 10 say the law is a negative development, while only about one in three see it as a positive step.
There’s a big age gap concerning the new law that crosses party lines. Adults under age 30 welcome the new law by a roughly 2 to 1 margin. But six in 10 seniors rate the law negatively.
There’s also a religion gap over the new law. More than seven in 10 white evangelical Protestants call the new law a negative development, but white non-evangelical Protestants take the opposite view by a 63 to 34 percent margin.
Catholics overall are more closely aligned with mainline Protestants in their views of the gay marriage law – 58 percent see it as a positive development. Religious observance plays a role, too. Catholics who attend Mass weekly split evenly, 48 to 48 percent, on the law, but less observant Catholics welcome it by a more than a 2 to 1 margin, 66 to 31 percent.
Two-thirds of adults who attend any kind of worship services at least once a week say the law is a negative development, while 73 percent of those who never attend church react positively to the legislation.