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Religiosity and Same-Sex Marriage in the United States and Europe
Berkeley Journal of International Law (BJIL) (2013)
  • David B Oppenheimer
  • Alvaro Oliveira
  • Aaron Blumenthal
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.
  • Same-sex Marriage,
  • Civil Rights,
  • Comparative Law
Publication Date
Citation Information
David B Oppenheimer, Alvaro Oliveira and Aaron Blumenthal. "Religiosity and Same-Sex Marriage in the United States and Europe" Berkeley Journal of International Law (BJIL) (2013)
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