Religiosity and Same-Sex Marriage in the United States and Europe

34 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2013 Last revised: 10 Jul 2013

See all articles by David B. Oppenheimer

David B. Oppenheimer

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Alvaro Oliveira

European University Institute; University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Aaron Blumenthal

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: June 29, 2013

Abstract

In the United States and Europe there has been a remarkable change in the legal recognition of same-sex relationships over the past two decades. Twenty years ago, no nation recognized same-sex marriage. Today in the United States, thirteen states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex couples to marry, while another six provide varying legal recognition of same-sex relationships, such as partnerships and civil unions. In Europe, nine nations permit same-sex marriage, and an additional thirteen nations provide varying levels of recognition to same-sex couples.

Support for same-sex marriage has been linked to age, political party, and education. In this paper, we examine the relationship between religiosity (defined as belief in God and importance of religion in a person’s life) and support for same-sex marriage. We caution that correlation is not causation, but find that in the United States and Western Europe, there is a strong correlation, while in Eastern Europe there is not.

In the United States, the correlation is remarkably strong. The most religious states (the highest quartile of States in religiosity) all have constitutional bans of same-sex marriage. Of the twelve states in the lowest religiosity quartile, eight permit same-sex marriage, while three more provide some legal recognition of same-sex relationships. In Western Europe, the correlation is not quite as strong, but some of the exceptions can probably be explained by temporary mismatches between popular support and political leadership. In Eastern Europe, however, the correlation is weak, with low religiosity often combined with low support for same-sex marriage. We suspect that this is a result of the legacy of communism, and its suppression of religion.

Keywords: Same-Sex Marriage, Comparative Law, Religiosity

Suggested Citation

Oppenheimer, David B. and Oliveira, Alvaro and Blumenthal, Aaron, Religiosity and Same-Sex Marriage in the United States and Europe (June 29, 2013). Berkeley Journal of International Law (BJIL), Fall 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2287286 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2287286

David B. Oppenheimer (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
5106433225 (Phone)

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Alvaro Oliveira

European University Institute ( email )

Villa Schifanoia
133 via Bocaccio
Firenze (Florence), Tuscany 50014
Italy

University of California, Berkeley - Berkeley Comparative Equality & Anti-Discrimination Law Study Group

Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States

Aaron Blumenthal

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA

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