Sunday, January 21, 2007

UCLA study: 61% of incoming freshmen support marriage equality.

A UCLA report released today about the attitudes of college freshmen nationwide says acceptance of same-sex marriage grew between 2005 and 2006.

The study found that 61% of incoming freshmen last year agreed that same-sex couples should have the right to marriage, up 3.3 percentage points from 2005.

Based on a paper questionnaire given to 271,441 first-time, full-time college students at 393 schools nationwide in 2006, the annual survey was conducted as part of the Cooperative Institutional Research Program under UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute. The researchers statistically adjusted the data to reflect the demographics of the 1.3 million incoming freshmen entering four-year schools throughout the U.S. in 2006.

The UCLA study surveyed opinions on a variety of social and political issues.

Researchers say today's freshmen are more vocal about their political ideologies than in previous years, with 33.8% saying they've recently discussed politics, up from 25.5% in 2004, when the question was last asked.

The percentage of students identifying themselves as "liberal," 28.4%, is at its highest level since 1975, and those identifying as "conservative," 23.9%, at its highest level in the survey's 40-year history.

However, the majority of 2006's freshman students, 43.3%, consider themselves "middle-of-the-road," the lowest percentage since first measured by the research program in 1970.

Hot-button issues, such as abortion and same-sex marriage, sharply divide liberals and conservatives, the survey found.

While the majority of freshmen overall support same-sex marriage, the issue divides students along ideological lines. Four out of 5 liberals support same-sex marriage, compared with 1 out of every 3 conservatives.

The common ground between liberals and conservatives can be found on affirmative action in college admissions, where 53% of conservatives and 45% of liberals agree that the practice should be abolished.

The two groups strongly agree in similar proportions that "dissent is a critical component of the political process," supported by 63.2% of conservatives and 66.1% of liberals surveyed.


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