Sunday, February 22, 2004

Good News

Look, I really think this poll taken by the Boston Globe is good news, not bad news. It's pretty incredible that just a few months ago a plurality polled supported legalizing gay marriages. That's pretty damn incredible. And, now we have:

The survey, taken by phone Wednesday and Thursday, indicated opposition to gay marriage has jumped 10 percentage points since a Globe survey done just days after the Supreme Judicial Court's Nov. 18 ruling legalizing gay marriages.

Then, 48 percent polled supported legalizing gay marriages, while 43 percent were opposed. In the recent poll, 35 percent supported legalizing gay marriage and 53 percent were opposed; the survey of 400 adults has a margin of error of plus or minus five percentage points.

Given the margin of error, the jump isn't as huge as the article spins.

The article continues:

A majority of respondents over 40 opposed gay marriage, while about 45 percent of those under 40 favored it. Catholics firmly opposed legalizing gay marriage, while 47 percent of Protestants opposed it and 38 percent supported it.

Sixty percent of those polled last week backed the creation of civil unions for gay couples, while 31 percent were opposed. In November, the Globe asked people if they "think gay and lesbian unions and partnerships should or should not be allowed by law." In that survey, 67 percent supported them and 23 percent were against.

This is very strangely worded language. On one hand it's surprisingly high, but on the other hand if I were a poll respondent I wouldn't have been sure if the poll was really referring to "a marriage-type civil union arrangement provided by the state" or just, you know "gay and lesbian relationships."

But, anyway, most people just don't understand this issue. There's confusion. They don't understand that it has nothing to do with the government forcing your church to bless certain types of relationships with religious marriage. Perhaps that's the part that people need to understand. This has nothing to do with the religious aspect of marriage. In fact, that type of gay marriage has always been legal and there are churches all around the country performing same-sex marriages all around the country even as I type this.

It is true that 5 years ago few would have predicted that granting "civil unions" would have been seen almost as a moderate mainstream position. But, now people need to understand that the only distinction between "civil union" and "marriage" is the name, and that is, as they say, truly a distinction without a difference. Now people need to understand that the Catholic Church will never, and should never, be forced to marry any couple they don't want to. And, nor will the pastor at the First Church of St. Elvis. This is a state issue, not a religious one.

Some courageous leaders could easily turn this one around. It's the right thing to do, and it's shockingly close to being the popular thing to do.