The LGBT movement has taken center stage in the political arena in recent years and seems to be building momentum as the next election moves closer. There is no doubt that the argument for gay rights has been a heated and divided one. Proposition 8 and Amendment 1 sparked masses of people to rally, debate, and voice their opinion. Gay rights, on any side of the spectrum, has sparked political communication everywhere. One of the most interesting effects of this social movement is the uprising of young voters and political thinkers. Research has shown that younger voters are by far largely in support of gay rights and are more tolerant in general of social issues than older voters. They have had put less emphasis on traditional values and more emphasis on these social issues.

Research has also shown that “deliberative engagement,” or the willingness to discuss and listen to different viewpoints on gay marriage is higher among younger and middle aged people. Older individual’s opinions are more likely to be shaped by preexisting religious beliefs as well as preexisting ideologies. Younger voters have also shown to be more in support of and tolerant of gay rights because they are strongly influenced by more social contact with gay men and lesbians than are older voters.

It is no surprise that this leftward movement of young Americans is in large part due to young voters partaking in political conversation more. Online media and social networking have been huge catalysts for this discussion. Through outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, The Daily Show, The Onion, Buzzfeed, and similar sites, young Americans have found ways to engage in politics and learn about political issues that is comfortable and easy for them, especially through using tools such as humor, sarcasm, and parody.

Older Americans are not as engaged online as they prefer printed or television news content. The world is quickly turning to the internet for all sources of news, and if this trend continues and young Americans continue to grow up through this way of communicating, then this leftward leaning trend may grow stronger and tolerance for all sorts of social issues, especially gay rights, may continue to strengthen.

-Karla Towle

Becker, A. B. and Scheufele, D. A. (2011), New Voters, New Outlook? Predispositions, Social Networks, and the Changing Politics of Gay Civil Rights. Social Science Quarterly, 92: 324–345. doi: 10.1111/j.1540-6237.2011.00771.x

Fisher, Patrick. “Is there an emerging age gap in US politics?” Society 45.6 (2008): 504+. General OneFile. Web. 6 Sept. 2013.


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