by Guest Blogger Pierce Collier
My name is Pierce Collier, and I am a convergent media major at Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky. While I don’t live in Morehead, I spend much time there and have observed the conflicts and demonstrations concerning Rowan County clerk, Kim Davis. Her offices are within a walk’s distance of campus and I happen to be in two journalism courses at the moment, both taught by a covering photographer of the Associated Press, so I have seen and heard many of the developments firsthand and have discussed the situation extensively. What I found most troublesome is the labeling of Morehead and Rowan County as a backward, militantly conservative region, and beyond that our state being the same. It should be noted that many of Davis’ supporters that gather at or in a court’s offices are not from Morehead, or even Kentucky.
The Pew Research Center found this year, less than a month before the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn same-sex marriage bans, that support for same-sex marriage has shot up to 57% among Americans, while only 39% opposed. What is amazing about this figure is that only eight years earlier, a like study found that 49% of Americans opposed, while only 42% supported—the largest increase in support of same-sex marriage in twenty years. The reason for this sharp increase is clear: The Millennial generation (those ages 18-34) has grown into adulthood and now has a voice in politics and society. Support for same-sex marriages is strong within this demographic, thus rapidly bringing a change in the nation’s average support.
Viewing this research, combined with Kim Davis drama, inspired me to conduct some research of my own. I randomly polled 100 MSU students (ages 18 to 30), asking them some basic information, whether they supported same-sex marriage, and why. The goal was to find an idea on where the Millennial generation stood on the issue, as well as gain insight of the attitude of the region. I found that a whopping 80% were in support of marriage equality, and only 9% were not. 11% were undecided. This gives us a look at the generation and its views, but what of the region? After all, not every student is from the area or even Kentucky. This is what I found. Students from Kentucky, of which there were 65, were more likely to support same-sex marriage (81%) and to oppose (10%). This left only 9% undecided. The 35 out-of-state students were less supportive (78%), less oppositional (6%), and much more indecisive on the issue (16%). This would suggest that Kentucky is more polarized on the issue than other places, and not necessarily less progressive.
As for the town of Morehead itself, 10 out of 11 students from the city were supportive, while only one was undecided. This would suggest that Rowan County is actually far less conservative than it is being portrayed in the media. I will close by sharing the most hopeful result I found in my research. When assessing age groups, I found 18-19 year-olds to be the most supportive of all. While the other age groups stayed roughly close to the broad average, this group showed significantly higher growth in support (86%), with shrinking rates in opposition (5%) and indecision (9%). While our generation has ushered in a more accepting mentality, I hope this one result is indicative of our progressiveness growing to new heights. Beyond that, let us all hope that it is indicative of a generation where our intolerance of same-sex couples and belief in inequality is nearly a thing of the past.