The recently released 2013 Louisiana Survey shows, in conjunction with other polls, that Louisianians are less likely than the rest of the United States to support gay marriage, marijuana legalization and stricter gun control laws.
Students and professors at the University seem to agree that Louisiana is lagging behind the rest of the country when it comes to popular opinion. The culture of Louisiana runs deep with tradition.This often limits progressive ideas and many think the strong Catholic presence in the state also makes it difficult to pass any legislation that may be against most constituents’ morals.
Religious studies senior and president of the University’s chapter of College Democrats Daniel Colvin said it is natural for Louisiana to oppose a more liberal agenda.
“You have to look at the culture in Louisiana,” he said. “Especially when it comes to guns – Louisiana has always been the sportsman’s paradise.”
Colvin said there has been a long distrust of the government, which stemmed from the abuse of office by public officials. He said he believes this has caused residents to be wary of large governmental solutions to problems.
“Traditional values trump popular ideas in culture,” he said.
Political communication professor Kirby Goidel agreed, saying traditions and religion play an important role in the conservative political ideas of the state.
Goidel said in addition to the strong conservative Catholic presence, more young people, who are typically more liberal, have begun to relocate to other states while the young people choosing to stay are usually more conservative.
A lack of large urban areas also leads to a more conservative voting. Goidel said the more rural the state, the more conservative it will be. He said a larger city like New Orleans will have more support for laws like legalizing gay marriage and marijuana mostly because of the exposure to different types of people, including members of the LGBT community.
Agricultural business junior and president of the University’s chapter of College Republicans Arielle Sutton said she was not surprised at the revelation that Louisiana was more conservative than the United States as a whole and believed the same would be true of various states in the South.
Sutton said she believes strongly in states’ rights and hopes any law Louisiana passes because of public opinion will not be infringed upon by the federal government.
She said an example of this occurred in the November election where the Louisiana people passed a bill that would ensure any attempted change to gun laws would be looked at with the strictest scrutiny of the law.
The surveys also showed Louisianians were more open to the idea of a civil union instead of a marriage.
Goidel said he believes this is due mostly to the language.
“If you got rid of the word marriage, you’d get rid of a lot of opposition,” he said. “The word marriage is connected to religion.”
Most people do agree that marijuana legalization and gay marriage are more likely to occur in Louisiana than stricter gun laws.
“I don’t think you will see guns moving as steadily as LGBTQ issues and marijuana,” Colvin said.
History freshman Nathaniel Hearn said he is a member of the NRA and believes guns are a way of life in Louisiana. Part of the Louisiana culture is based on the idea of a sportsman’s paradise, he said.
Goidel said it is only a matter of time before marijuana and gay marriage are legalized in the state, but said guns are not of the same sort of logic. Louisianians see guns as a sign of independence and an indentifying marker of who they are, he said.
“I think Louisiana is becoming more liberal,” Colvin said. “They are seeing what is happening with the rest of the country and their ideas are changing.”
Goidel said Louisiana is moving to be more liberal in some ways, but is behind the rest of the nation in secularizing itself.
“People who find that they have something to fight for politically get involved,” Colvin said.