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Comments

1
Now Dan, when you equate advanced age with closeness to Death you don't allow for the Joker of AIDS and other STDs. What demographic will the next Gay Plague target? As we skip to Gomorrah it bears pondering....
2
This visual would be useful if it could track the "march" of a particular age cohort as they got older.

It mightn't be possible for the oldest cohort who weren't polled on the question when they were 18-29, but to monitor today's 18-29-year-olds once they work their way into career, (possibly) family, and the other markers of social institution after age 30 (that seem to have a mitigating influence on their abstract position on a cultural institution such as marriage) would be instructive and insightful for gauging genuine change over time. Time is the function here, after all.

Held alone, this chart is just for making pretty pictures for a statporn rag.
3
@2: The study itself shows the change in opinion over time, from 1996 to 2008 in three separate data points, 1996/2004/2008. It shows a clear shift towards support in every state. While that is only 12 years, that timespan does shift two specific age cohorts, so there ya go.
4
@2
You're right, held alone this doesn't prove much and there are issues on which people tend to become more conservative with age. However, other research seems to indicate that there really is a generational gap at work here. Look, for example here:
http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/04/w…

Opposition to gay marriage is decreasing and while it is not certain that this trend will continue, there is some reason for hope.
5
Sorry, this time logged in with full link:

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/04/w…
6
Somebody screwed up on the Alaska position. There's no way they could have an overall average that's higher than Wisconsin, Illinois and Montana, given the age-specific results they indicated. Unless maybe the <18-year-olds in AK are unanimously in favor of gay marriage.
7
I like it when science proves what we already know.
8
Dan, didn't you make some comment precisely along those lines after Prop 8 passed? I think I recall seeing you say something about old people dying on the Colbert Report...
9
While I think in the case of gay marriage acceptance it's true: every generation seems more and more accepting. Let's not fool ourselves that this is always the case with social issues that "things just keep getting better".

It was much more acceptable to be a socialist circa 1912 than now. In that election the Socialist candidate got nearly 10% of the national vote for president. Could you even imagine having a sane, noncontroversial discusion about that now?

Also, German jews in the 1920s certainly thought they were enjoying unprecedented assimilation and social acceptance. Many even pooh-poohed anti-semetic politicians as "backwards". Backlashes can be dangerous things. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but all it would take is one really big, horrific, child abuse news item to give the Right Wing backlash material against the gays.

We shouldn't get cocky.
10
Re 6: Not quite. I believe it's actually that the age distribution in Alaska is skewed much younger than in the other states.

Imagine, for example, there were only a single person age 65+ in Alaska, and he/she were pro gay marriage. That would put the 65+ mark at 100% without changing the overall support percentage.
11
@10: Oh, I understand age-adjustment and AK's skewed age distribution very well. But every single age category has responses below those of WI, IL and MT. In order for the age distribution to be responsible for skewing it in the way you suggest, you'd have to have younger age groups in AK more supportive than they are in the other states.
12
#6: I don't know about Alaska. I lived in Fairbanks at one time (early 90s) and there were a lot of pot-smoking, ex-hippie older-edge Boomers who were liberal and moved to "the Last Frontier" in the 1970s. We kind of laughed at them for being stuck in 1975. It was the younger families (probably today's 40 & 50somethings) who were all the Bible Thumpers and trailor-trash Sarah Palin types.
13
This reminds me of a scene from the movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" when the character played by Sidney Poitier says to his father:

"You and your whole lousy generation believes the way it was for you is the way it's got to be. And not until your whole generation has lain down and died will the dead weight of you be off our backs."

When that movie was made the idea of interracial marriage was as controversial as same sex marriage is today. Time is on our side.
14
It is sad that I'm waiting for a massive, bigot-dirt-nap before my husband and I are treated like human beings.

But only a little sad.
15
We're all inching closer to death, but that might go without saying.
16
I would like to see some research on how immigration is going to affect this trend. Since most population growth in the US is being driven by immigration, especially from Latin America, will these new immigrants bring their largely Catholic-informed opinions with them and slow the trend toward acceptance of gay marriage? Most immigrants from eastern Europe and Africa are also not too down with the gays. Are we in a race to get gay marriage accepted by a more liberal resident population before a more conservative immigrant population has gained greater political power? (And please, don't anyone get after me claiming I'm anti-immigrant. I'm boycotting Arizona like the rest of you. I'm just asking the question about whether anyone has looked at these stats.)
17
Clearly, god keeps punishing the South because of Massachusetts gay marriage.
18
Can we make a pledge to call it Analbama as long as it stays at the bottom on this list?
19
Your just jealous because some folks actually know what a rectum is for.
20
For all the stereotypes and loud Bible-thumping, I swear the kinkiest freaks in the whole country live in Alabama. The whole damn state is in the closet about something. It's just like all the holier-than-thou bigot politicians that get caught with their pants down.

And yet I still have to drive to Tennessee to get booze that hasn't been taxed to into 3 digits.
21
@19: Here's a phrase for you: "latus rectum". Google it. I double-dog-dare you.
22
@11: You are, in a word, wrong. Here's a simplified example:

Suppose in State A, 50% of the population is under 30 and 50% is over. Suppose further that 66% of the under 30 population and 34% of the over 30 population support gay marriage. Then overall support for gay marriage is 50%.

Suppose in State B, 70% of the population is under 30, and 30% is over. Suppose further that 60% of the under 30 population and 30% of the over 30 population support gay marriage. Then overall support for gay marriage is 51%, greater than it is in State A, despite both age groups individually having lower support for gay marriage than the corresponding age groups in State B.

For the statistically curious, this is an example of Simpson's Paradox.
23
@19: Descriptively, the function of the rectum which has caused natural selection to favor its retention is the elimination of undigested food and the excretion of bile salts. Prescriptively, the proper use of the rectum is . . . whatever its owner decides it is, provided that no one is harmed except perhaps the owner himself and/or other consenting adults.
24
Yeah, people get more conservative as they age, but that doesn't necessarily mean SOCIALLY conservative. I've always regarded it as a more property/economically sort of thing.

We don't really have studies to back it up, but gut feeling tells me that once you're ok with gays, you generally won't go back on it. Tolerance is a one-way street.
25
D'oh! Yes, of course, Simpson's paradox. My original comment @6 might have better been stated: "Why didn't they age-adjust the average values--or at least, rank them before and after age adjustment to separate the birth cohort effects from the inherent bigotry within the state?"