Race Relations and Legalized Gay Marriage

After the recent Supreme Court ruling giving gay couples the right to marry nationwide, the Civitas Institute engaged the services of National Research, Inc., of Holmdel, NJ to poll North Carolina voters on their current position on same-sex marriage.

In May 2012, North Carolina voters, by a margin of 61% to 39% voted to amend its constitution, banning same-sex marriage in the state.

Three years later, if a referendum vote were held today, according to this poll, two-thirds of N.C. voters still support the traditional view of marriage.

“Sixty-four percent of voters supported the clause in the North Carolina Constitution that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. Sixty-three percent of respondents said they think officials who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds should not be compelled to perform same-sex marriages.”


On the question “Do you support the State Constitution, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman,” nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of all participants responded affirmatively. Additionally:

  • Overall support mirrored the rates among men and women individually.
  • All age groups other than 18-25 year olds expressed support of at least 57 percent with 71 percent of those 66 and older supporting the Constitution.
  • Black North Carolinians expressed the strongest support for traditional marriage at 67 percent, followed closely by 63 percent of white North Carolinians.
  • A majority of all political affiliations also support the constitutional definition of marriage—82 percent of Republicans, 56 percent of Independents, and 55 percent of Democrats.

On the religious freedom question, 63 percent of North Carolinians disagree with “state government court officials, such as register of deeds, who oppose same sex marriage on religious grounds, [being] compelled to perform and certify same sex marriages, even if it clearly violates an individual’s religious convictions,” Additionally:

  • Among men and women separately, more than 6 in 10 (64 percent of men and 61 percent of women) support religious exemptions for government officials.

  • More than three-fourths (77 percent) of 18-25 year olds support such religious liberty exemptions. At least 54 percent of all age groups disagreed with compulsory participation in same sex marriages.

  • Again, black North Carolinians expressed the highest levels of support for religious liberty (66 percent), followed closely by 62 percent of both white and other race North Carolinians.

  • All political affiliations disagree with forcing government officials to participate in same sex marriages, with 76 percent of Republicans clocking in at the highest rate.


See cross tabs here.

Although North Carolina is only one state out of fifty within the U.S., these poll results are supported by other data which shows that Black Americans continue to resist same-sex marriage at higher levels than other demographic groups.

A Pew Research study in May of this year shows that “African Americans have become more supportive of same-sex marriage over the last decade. However, overall views are mixed: 51% of blacks oppose gays and lesbians marrying legally, while 41% are in favor. Majorities of whites (59%) and Hispanics (56%) now favor same-sex marriage. The racial differences in these opinions largely persist even when taking into account other factors, such as age, religious affiliation and attendance at religious services.”

Religion weighs heavily in the continued opposition to same-sex marriage among all demographics, but is particularly strong among Blacks.


  • 83% of Blacks describe themselves as Christian, and nearly half (41%) attend church at least once a week
  • 91% trust God to take care of things
  • 70% of women believe that faith in God is more likely to help them recover from a serious illness (59% among men)
  • One in ten say they have no religion or that they are atheists or agnostic

Black Solidarity

  • 71% think it’s important “to stick together to achieve gains for the community”

  • Six in 10 believe that, with very few exceptions, problems in the Black community can be solved by Blacks themselves

  • 64% prefer businesses that give back to the Black community

  • 46% of Blacks think that recent Black immigrants don’t understand the African-American struggle


Perhaps nothing will change or everything will change… but what do you think the gay marriage ruling will mean for race relations in America?