Marriage support in the Americas

Timothy Kincaid

July 22nd, 2010

Americas Quarterly gives a good summary of the current status of LGBT rights in the Americas. They also provide a graph of the support for marriage equality in the various nations. Based on the American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP), it provides more than a yes or no answer to the question of support.

With public policies toward gay marriage varying widely, this is a critical moment to look at citizens’ opinions with respect to same-sex marriage. First, we examine levels of support for same-sex couples having the right to marry. Then, we assess both individual- and national-level determinants of variation in that level of support. Analysis is drawn from data from the American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) survey, which includes 42,238 respondents from 25 nations in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean were asked this question:

We asked the following question: How strongly do you approve or disapprove of same-sex couples having the right to marry?

Responses were given based on a 1-10 scale, where ‘1’ meant “strongly disapprove” and ’10’ meant “strongly approve.” These responses were then recalibrated on a 0-100 basis.


July 23rd, 2010

I know nothing of South American sociopolitics but, considering the geographical proximity of Uruguay and Paraguay, I find the large difference in support for same-sex marriage between the two nations (50.5 v. 16.1 percent, respectively) intriguing. Can anyone provide an explanation for this?


July 23rd, 2010

Or, is the difference largely due to population distribution, with Uruguay having a larger urban population (Montevideo)?


July 23rd, 2010

@johnathan: uruguay is a lot richer and has higher living standards than paraguay. as well, it’s more urban and cosmopolitan.
plus, it already allows for gay adoption, which settles the biggest overall issue latin american countries seem to have with same-sex marriage (at least, judging by the debate in mexico and argentina).


July 23rd, 2010

@johnathan: there seems to be a rough correlation with average wealth and social stability. Proportion of population of African descent seems to correlate with additional opposition (perhaps cultural/religious).

Regan DuCasse

July 23rd, 2010

I think the size of these countries is important. The US is a large country, closer in size to Canada and Mexico. The difference in support north and south of us is remarkable. Canada has more in common with the US than Mexico.

Although I think Mexico’s urban centers are more dense, their population size is getting close to the US as well.

But yeesh, the influence of the Catholic Church on these particular places bears note too.
Which really makes me wonder how a country like the US, whose government is essentially secular hasn’t moved further than this?

Priya Lynn

July 23rd, 2010

Makes me wonder too, Regan. I speculate that the difference between Canada and the U.S. is that religion is significantly more important to people in the U.S. than in Canada.


July 23rd, 2010

Thank you, all. And yes, as to the difference between the U.S. and Canada, I strongly suspect that religion is a MAJOR influence as well.


July 23rd, 2010

A few thoughts immediately popped up when I saw this graph:

1. Surprised Costa Rica is so low on acceptance

2. What about Cuba? It is a secular country – it would be interesting to note the populace’s feelings on homosexuality – and whether the relative lack of influence by the Catholic Church is supplanted by official government disdain for LGBTs there. Perhaps they’d come out similar to Venezuela.

3. I agree with others that the greater the influence of the Church, combined with lower relative per-capita wealth and education, the lower the acceptance of LGBT communities.


July 23rd, 2010

I am Canadian, and I guarantee you religion is the answer: Canada separates Church and State, the U.S. does not. I am very proud of former Prime Minister Paul Martin, who gave this speech for the Civil Marriage Act way back in 2005:

“The facts are plain: Religious leaders who preside over marriage ceremonies must and will be guided by what they believe. If they do not wish to celebrate marriages for same-sex couples, that is their right. The Supreme Court says so. And the Charter says so.

One final observation on this aspect of the issue: Religious leaders have strong views both for and against this legislation. They should express them. Certainly, many of us in this House, myself included, have a strong faith, and we value that faith and its influence on the decisions we make. But all of us have been elected to serve here as Parliamentarians. And as public legislators, we are responsible for serving all Canadians and protecting the rights of all Canadians.

We will be influenced by our faith but we also have an obligation to take the widest perspective — to recognize that one of the great strengths of Canada is its respect for the rights of each and every individual, to understand that we must not shrink from the need to reaffirm the rights and responsibilities of Canadians in an evolving society.

The second argument ventured by opponents of the bill is that government ought to hold a national referendum on this issue. I reject this – not out of a disregard for the view of the people, but because it offends the very purpose of the Charter.

The Charter was enshrined to ensure that the rights of minorities are not subjected, are never subjected, to the will of the majority. The rights of Canadians who belong to a minority group must always be protected by virtue of their status as citizens, regardless of their numbers. These rights must never be left vulnerable to the impulses of the majority.

We embrace freedom and equality in theory, Mr. Speaker. We must also embrace them in fact.”

Have you ever heard ANY U.S. politician separate Church and State, and elucidate his DUTY to ALL his citizens, so clearly?

Audrey the Liberal

July 23rd, 2010

It looks like I have to point out the giant (pink)elephant in the room: There is a strong correlation between epidermal melanin production and anti-gay bigotry.


July 24th, 2010

Seriously, when is it going to be 100% across the board. I’m so tired of reading about how the polls are looking good because 50 something percent of people support it. That’s not good enough. There have always been gay, bisexual, and varying gender-expressive people for as long as humanity has existed, and there is absolutely no harm done in being any one of those things. It is society that assigns negative labels based on fear, misinformation, and ignorance.

Timothy Kincaid

July 24th, 2010


Russia is far far more homophobic than Spain. South Africa has marriage equality but Lithuania bans “promotion of homosexuality”.

I think that your observations about correlation are probably based on cultural assumptions within ethnic communities in the US and do not hold up well to broader application.


July 25th, 2010

Visiting from which linked this interesting graph. Our conversation: The chart does not represent percentage of population supporting or against equal marriage; instead it sets out how strongly an average person in each country views same sex marriage. 100 means “I would fight to my last breath to change the law (or continue existing laws) so that gays can marry.” Since 95%+ of any country is heterosexual, anything close to 100 is impossible because it isn’t that relevant. 50.5 is indifference. “I don’t care if gays marry or not because it doesn’t affect me.” Any country close to 0 is rabidly against LGBT rights in the most deep-rooted way. The U.S. at 45/100 is surprisingly positive: “I am against same-sex marriage but wouldn’t care too much if it were legalized.” [I will, of course, defer to public polling experts if my interpretation is incorrect.]


July 26th, 2010

Stepsi, in quoting Prime Minister Paul Martin, explained one reason why the Canadian acceptance rate is so high. Canada at the national level upholds individual rights.

Another reason, a mathematical reason, if you will, is that Canada does not recognize the option of domestic partnerships. In other countries, especially the US, where marriage rights are determined state by state, the acceptance rate for some form of legal recognition for same sex couples is split between marriage and domestic partnerships.

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