These results not only confirm what scholars have found elsewhere on that relationship ( Norris and Inglehart 2009 ; Berggren and Nilsson 2015 ), but they also lend further support to the argument that that there exists a relationship between media exposure and the development of liberal values more generally
Meanwhile, the effects of democratic quality are statistically significant but substantively small. Each additional increase in the quality of democracy increases the odds of supporting SSM by about 6 percent across Models 1–3. Higher proportions of evangelical and Catholic populations are associated with significantly lower baseline probabilities of supporting SSM. Together these results are generally consistent with notions that more economically developed, secular, and democratic societies express greater support for SSM.
Though not central to our research hypotheses, it is worth noting that the rest of our model results are consistent with expectations based on the extant literature. According to Models 1–3, each additional increase in expressed individual-level support for democracy is associated with approximately 4 percent higher odds of supporting SSM. Meanwhile, each additional increase in subjective religiosity is associated with about 21.5 percent lower odds of supporting SSM. Evangelical Christians have significantly lower (about 45 percent) odds of supporting SSM, compared to nonbelievers, nonreligious believers, and those of other religions (the reference category). The results also indicate that Catholics have about 9 percent higher odds of supporting SSM compared to the reference category. However, Catholics’ odds of supporting SSM vary over time. In 2010, the results indicate that Catholics had lower odds than those in the reference category of support and higher odds in 2012 and 2014 (see appendix). As an individual’s political ideology becomes more left, their odds of supporting SSM increase by a modest though statistically significant 1.6 percent.
Individual or household socioeconomic status is also related to support for SSM, though not always in robust or significant ways. For example, the odds of supporting SSM are significantly higher in households that have a personal chemistry computer (10 percent higher odds) and in households located in the capital city (30.8 percent higher odds). More positive subjective evaluations of the national and household economic situation are also significantly associated with higher odds of supporting SSM, though the increase in the odds is only about 8 percent for national and less than 1 percent for household evaluations. Employment status is not significantly associated with different probabilities of supporting SSM. The odds of supporting SSM also significantly increase, by about 10 to 11 percent, with each additional level of education completed.
Demographic characteristics are also useful for understanding which groups are more likely to support for SSM in Latin America. Younger, female, and single individuals are all statistically more likely to support SSM. Women have 62 percent higher odds of supporting SSM than comparable men. Single individuals have about 12 to 15 percent higher odds of expressing support for SSM than married or formerly married individuals. Meanwhile, each half generation of older individuals has about 17 percent lower odds of supporting SSM than the half generation below it. Individuals with more children also have significantly lower (by about 3 to 4 percent) odds of supporting SSM. None of these socioeconomic or demographic results are surprising, though they do demonstrate the robustness of findings established by other cross-national studies of attitudes toward SSM.
The model estimates also provide insights into the relationship between national-level characteristics, including economic development, quality of democracy, and religious identities, and the average baseline probability that respondents will support SSM
While controlling for variables that are known to influence people’s attitudes on the issue, our study suggests that there exists a very strong association between media exposure and support for SSM in Latin America. The debate over SSM was placed at the top of national agendas in late 2009 as bills to reform civil codes allowing same-sex couples to marry were introduced to the Mexico City Legislative Assembly and the Argentine Chamber of Deputies. The introduction of these bills pitted the leaderships of socially conservative organizations, such as the Catholic Church, against liberal elites that supported the reforms. Given the contentious nature of the issue, media coverage of the debates was wide ( Diez 2015 ), and such coverage inevitably meant higher individual exposure to the debate over SSM. It thus appears that the higher the exposure Latin Americans have to debates over SSM in the media, particularly digital media, everything else being equal, the more likely it is that they will side with the arguments advanced by proponents of SSM. Based on our analysis, it is likely that as Latin Americans are exposed to both sides of the argument, stereotypes and misconceptions regarding homosexuality and same-sex relationships are challenged, thereby increasing support.