With a marriage equality decision expected from the Supreme Court in a matter of days, conservatives are increasingly taking defensive postures, with claims of a secret plan and calls for civil disobedience if they lose. One organization this week engaged in some impressive rhetorical acrobatics to try to make it sound like they are still winning the war when it comes to public opinion on same-sex marriage.
In its daily email blast, the Family Research Council (FRC) claimed Wednesday that there is “growing opposition” among middle-aged adults. “The gap is widening between Millennials and their Generation X counterparts,” the group claimed, such that “the children of Madonna and Ferris Bueller are noticeably more reluctant to redefine marriage than they used to be.” This conclusion is based on polling from the Pew Research Center, which found that in 2005, five percent more Millennials supported marriage equality than Generation Xers, but now, FRC explains, “the difference is 14 percent.”
Technically, these numbers are accurately reported. But they say the exact opposite of what FRC is claiming. In 2005, that five percent difference was 49-44, but in 2015, that 14 percent difference is 73-59:
As Pew’s chart — which FRC even links to — clearly shows, support for marriage equality has surged among all age groups over that time in a relatively parallel fashion. What the numbers FRC highlights actually suggest is that Millennials have just embraced marriage equality even faster than Xers. But the evidence is pretty striking that opponents of same-sex marriage have been consistently losing in the polls among adults of all ages over the past ten years.
Despite the fact that Pew’s numbers show that even the oldest Americans have supported marriage equality more as they’ve aged, FRC was undeterred. While it’s generally true that older people tend to be more conservative than current younger people, FRC instead boasted that this widening gap between the younger generations somehow confirms their backward assertion that people become more conservative as they age:
More than double. The shift may have caught liberals off guard — but not us. FRC has argued for years that the older people get, the more socially conservative they become. Once young people shed their rebellious 20s, get married, and have a family, it dramatically alters their perspective on some of these issues. Suddenly, the anything-goes teenager turns into a father who can’t imagine their little girl sharing a bathroom with a grown man or hearing LGBT fairy tales in third grade.
These days, with more young people putting off marriage, the cultural awakening is taking a little longer. But it is happening, as Pew makes very clear. The Left desperately wants to lock young people into a box on issues like marriage — but they shouldn’t be surprised when their opinions “evolve” too.
Pew does make it very clear. If FRC’s strategy is to assume that it’ll win if it just waits for everybody to get older, it might be waiting a very long time.