So What Does the Public Really Think About Same-Sex Marriage?02 June 2009 | By LowellB in Gay Marriage, Lowell, TN Blog
The answer seems increasingly clear. The most recent Gallup poll on the subject suggests that a solidifying majority favor protecting gays from discrimination, but draw the line short of approving gay marriage:
While Americans have become increasingly likely to believe that the law should not discriminate against gay individuals and gay couples, the public still seems reluctant at this point to extend those protections to the institution of marriage. Public support for gay marriage appears to have stalled in the last two years, even as the gay marriage movement has scored a number of legal and legislative victories at the state level in the past year.
You need to read the whole thing, but the poll’s most striking numbers are these:
“Americans’ views on same-sex marriage have essentially stayed the same in the past year, with a majority of 57% opposed to granting such marriages legal status and 40% in favor of doing so. Though support for legal same-sex marriage is significantly higher now than when Gallup first asked about it in 1996, in recent years support has appeared to stall, peaking at 46% in 2007.”
People also seem to be worried about the long-term consequences of allowing same-sex marriage:
A separate question in the poll found close to half of Americans, 48%, saying that allowing legal same-sex marriages would change society for the worse. That is more than three times the 13% who believe legal gay marriage would change society for the better. The remaining 38% say it would have no effect on society or do not have an opinion on the matter.
These results are essentially unchanged from a Gallup Poll conducted six years ago. . . .
But, but, but . . . this does not mean Americans are anti-gay. That’s clearly not the case:
- Sixty-seven percent say gay and lesbian domestic partners should have access to health insurance and other employee benefits.
- Nearly three in four Americans, 73%, believe gay and lesbian domestic partners should have inheritance rights.
- Sixty-seven percent favor a proposal to expand hate-crime laws to cover crimes committed against gays or lesbians.
- Only 28% of Americans believe that gays or lesbians should not be hired as elementary school teachers. Sixty-nine percent believe they should be allowed to teach children.
Since those results reflects our own positions on the same issues, we feel somewhat vindicated – or at least like we have a lot of company. Now, in fairness, there are other, less recent polls with more nuanced results. Chris Cilizza of the Washington Post surveys those in his May 27 post at The Fix.
Press Coverage – Or Is It Non-Coverage?
Is anyone in the news media covering this? Mollie Ziegler at GetReligion doesn’t think so. She comments on the Gallup data in in her analysis of the increasingly infamous “The Mormons Are Coming!” ad campaign in several Eastern states. (I wrote about that campaign at some length on Article VI Blog.)
The media really like to run with the narrative that same-sex marriage is inevitable. They have repeated it incessantly. But is it true? Take, even, the oft-repeated statistics about how young people support same-sex marriage while older people oppose it. That is definitely true. But should we assume that attitudes don’t change over time? It reminds me of these surveys showing that college students don’t go to church as frequently as older adults do. The thing is that college church attendance has very little to do with later church attendance. For decades we’ve seen that college students drop off and then rebound in church attendance.
Looking back at the Gallup poll, shouldn’t the media be exploring something about why attitudes have changed, according to the poll? Are people looking at the lack of violence following, for instance, an Iowa Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage compared with the response in California to how Prop. 8 turned out? I don’t know … but it’s odd that a story about an anti-Mormon ad campaign (an ad campaign literally called “The Mormons are Coming!”) wouldn’t even consider that this might backfire big time.
Read Mollie’s entire post.