Monday, March 28, 2011

Creeping Toward Equal

Woe to any of us who parades a single poll or research finding as larger proof. Like the absurd faddishness of primary care physicians, we see this locally in the Globe's Sunday Uncommon Knowledge toilet reading in the Ideas section. A single finding is extrapolated to imply immutable proof of this or that, regardless of the likelihood that others will shortly find very different results.

Yet for marriage-equality, poll after poll, year after year, region beyond region see Americans catching up to the rest of the civilized world. We're agreeing that homosexuality is none of our business and don't need to be about punishing gay men and lesbians for being who they are. We have come to approve of same-sex marriage.

The typical trepid, trend following politicians are following the parade of compassion, like so many sweepers behind the horses and elephants. An impatient sort, I finally admit that we are inexorably leading toward marriage equality...just not fast enough to suit me.

For just one, large set of data, let's look at the recently released ABC News/Washington Post survey of registered voters. It shows the evolution of opinion from the same questions seven years ago — that would be when Massachusetts instituted SSM and after Vermont had started civil unions.

Of just over 1,000 random, nationwide voters, even the most adamantly anti-SSM ones have increased their favorable leanings. That is Republicans went from 25% in 2004 in favor of SSM to 31% this month and year. Likewise, self-identified evangelical Christians went from 14% to 25% favorable.

Those two groups remain out of step with the larger gains by the whole country. They are, of course, also well in the minority of voters. We can be sure pols are aware of all this and many are thinking they had better align with their constituents so they can stay in office.

Most telling is that beyond Dems (64% for legalizing SSM), the nation as a whole is 53% for legalizing and 44% for keeping illegal where it is. That is up from 32% for legal and 62% against seven years ago. Moreover, the struggle for independent voters appear to be over, with 58% in favor of SSM.

As had been the pattern, this also reflects a future of marriage-equality acceptance, as only older boomers and their parents oppose it. While it is theoretically possible that middle-aged and younger Americans will suddenly shift dramatically to anti-SSM, only groups who earn their livings off fomenting anti-gay sentiments seem willing to believe or pretend to believe that.

For example, in reaction to this survey, National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown feigned that if only the lead question was different, the poll would show anti-SSM totals. As the WaPo cited him, he "argued that the term 'illegal' could be inferred to mean that violators could be imprisoned, which most Americans would consider harsh." Instead, he likes to point to the highly orchestrated, heavily funded state campaigns that have led to plebiscites against SSM. "We’ve seen these biased polls time and time again — right before votes in which same-sex marriage is rejected. It’s absurd. The people of this country have not changed their opinion about marriage."

A less delusional view came from the other side, the pro-equality Freedom to Marry. In contrast to NOM's jive, President Evan Wolfson said, "This is very consistent with a lot of other polling data we’ve seen and the general momentum we’ve seen over the past year and a half." That's certainly less sensational than pretending things are other than what they are. It does, however, show a much firmer grasp of reality.

Straight talk from a gay activist helps clarify dealing with the Browns and similar liars. Two years ago, John Hosty-Grinnell joined us on Left Ahead to speak on the righteousness and necessity for calling out the misrepresentations and fabrications.

Instead what we have been seeing in poll after poll, at least those not conducted by and for anti-gay groups, is America becoming acclimated to the positive reality and zero downside of SSM. After all, not only have several more states implemented SSM without problems, so have Canada, much of Europe and even various cities and countries in strongly Roman Catholic Latin America including Mexico.

Consider also:
  • The NYT reports on Republicans stepping back from SSM as a campaign and operational issue.
  • The WaPo analyzes the strong and growing Catholic support for SSM and LGBT anti-discrimination laws.
  • The Boston Globe digs into the latest poll, headlining it, Same-sex marriage no longer such a divisive political issue.
  • PollingReport provides numerous SSM and other gay-related surveys.
Those who are still befuddled can head to the internet or library. There are more reports than you can digest, nearly all showing the slow and remarkably steady acceptance of a more open, less fearful and more compassionate America.

I remain impatient, but even I have no doubt that we as a nation will widely allow and even embrace marriage equality. Our coming generations of citizens and voters area already asking what the fuss is about. Those who make vague, confused efforts to justify the unjustifiable dwindle in number by the day and year.

We are still the most socially conservative of the large industrialized countries. That may not change anytime soon. It's also likely that as SSM becomes the law in more and more states, some, such as Texas will neither provide equality nor even recognized legal SSMs from other states. Perhaps those among us who pray for the enlightenment and redemption of the sinful, confused and hateful can ask for grace to come to the antis.

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Uncle said...

All hopeful, but but but WE are older boomers, and we've been for equal marriage from the get-go. As they used to say, all generalisations are false ;-)

massmarrier said...

Yeah, yeah, I used to think how much better it would be when we got in power. Then came the likes of George the Lesser Bush and the flood of boomer pols. Now looking at many of my HS and college peers, I see that they have aged pretty badly politically. Then in retrospect, I recall that most of them never did march or protest...or even inhale.

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