Thursday, April 9, 2009

Polling on Gay Marriage

Nate Silver has done a sophisticated analysis of polling trends on gay marriage, "Fact and Fiction on Gay Marriage Polling." He concludes that:

Support for gay marriage ... is strongly generational ... Civil unions have already achieved the support of an outright majority of Americans, and as those older voters are replaced by younger ones, the smart money is that gay marriage will reach majority status too at some point in the 2010's.
Not so fast, actually.

Note this
methodological note from Silver's plotted-data of PollingReport surveys:

This chart includes all surveys in the database, except those where the respondent was given a three-pronged choice between gay marriage, civil unions and nothing.
This is problematic. Recent surveys, from Iowa Iowa and nationally, have queried support for gay marriage outside of this binary formulation (gay marriage/civil unions). Here's Newsweek's key question item, with only 31 percent favor full same-sex marriage rights:

Thinking again about legal rights for gay and lesbian couples, which of the following comes CLOSEST to your position on this issue? Do you support FULL marriage rights for same-sex couples, OR support civil unions or partnerships for same-sex couples, BUT NOT full marriage rights, OR do you oppose ANY legal recognition for same-sex couples?
Now, while there is evidence for the notion that the liberal youth cohort will replace older voters less tolerant of gay marriage (see, for example, "Explaining the Growing Support for Gay and Lesbian Equality Since 1990"), the nature of question wording, as well as the environmental political influences (gay rights protest extremism, activist political mobilization strategies, and so forth), will determine the levels of support for same-sex marriage in the years ahead. With these facts in mind, it seems a bit premature to suggest, as does Silver, "that gay marriage will reach majority status" in just a few years.


Tim said...


I think, truth be known, that the gay community would be better served by having open town hall meetings about the issue and have it be discussed rationally and openly. It would obviously have to be moderated.

The fundamental question that all gay marriage supporters have is pretty basic: How, or why, would a gay couple living next door to you infringe upon your rights or freedoms by the simple addition of a wedding ring on their fingers, and maybe some guaranteed rights that may not be covered by civil unions or less?

It would literally change nothing. Nothing changed in California when gays could get married. In fact, the atmosphere was notably brighter and more positive!

Donna B. said...

Perhaps it takes seeing personal examples of how gay/lesbians unions (whatever name you wish to put on them) actually work.

I have personally known three couples who have lived together as if they were married for years. One is a neighbor and cares for the disabled brother of one of the partners. The brothers I've known since they were in middle school.

The other two are not so close, but their "unions" are working out just fine. One couple raised two children who are now productive citizens, and straight.

The other couple runs a successful business together, as they have for the past 12 years I've known them.

Why the antagonism of allowing them the same civil rights as any other couple?

I also know of three straight couples who were content to live together, but got married to enjoy the benefits of insurance and because one spouse's employer would pay for moving expenses.

Where's the huge difference and how does it make my life or my marriage (before a JP well beyond child-bearing age) any less meaningful?

Donna B. said...

I should note that I live in the south, in the Bible belt, in an area that mostly votes conservative.

My conservative bonafides are that I've never voted for a Democrat for President. I have voted for some in more local elections, such as Edwin Edwards over David Duke.

The Republican party is leaving me behind, socially. Where do people like me belong?

Tim said...

Donna: Nice post. I'm sure you will get shouted down here for being a hater of traditionalism. Or some such.


Donna B. said...

Is there not a tradition of loving acceptance somewhere? Either in this country or in Christianity?

I am informed by father's family -- one that has spawned many preachers and I listen to them and ask their advice. They are wise.

One thing they always preach is loving acceptance of others. Or call it preaching anti-hate, anti-judgment... whatever. It works.

This family is somewhat like the Hotel California, you really can't leave. Even if the blood member divorces you, you're still a sister or brother. I know of only one person that's been "disowned" and he's in prison for murder of another member of the family.

So... why can't our society be more like that?

repsac3 said...

Polling, Gay Marriage, and Civil Unions