Here is an interesting poll (August 10-11, 2010) on same sex marriage from FoxNews.
Those most likely to support allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally include liberals (59 percent), Democrats (56 percent), Northeasterners (55 percent), and those under age 30 (52 percent).
Conservatives (38 percent), Republicans (37 percent), those ages 65 and over (37 percent), and those with less than a college education (36 percent) are among those most likely to say there should be no legal recognition for same-sex relationships.
Among those who attend religious services regularly, 20 percent believe gays should be allowed to marry legally, 31 percent support a legal partnership and 43 percent believe there should be no legal recognition.
For those who attend services rarely, 44 percent support legal marriage, 31 percent legal partnership and 20 percent no legal recognition.
Notice the predictable groups in favor and against. Notice also that the country is still decidedly against it: 57 percent to 37. But when you examine the results in greater detail, you can hear a less heartening message.
Do you believe gays and lesbians should be:
1. Allowed to get legally married,
2. Allowed a legal partnership similar to but not called marriage, or ...
3. Should there be no legal recognition given to gay and lesbian relationships?
4. (Don’t know)
Legally married - 37%
Legal Partnership - 29%
No recognition -28%
Don't know - 6%
Legally married - 56%
Legal Partnership - 18%
No recognition - 21%
Don't know - 5%
Legally married - 19%
Legal Partnership - 39%
No recognition - 37%
Don't know - 5%
Legally married - 39%
Legal Partnership - 29%
No recognition - 24%
Don't know - 8%
This is what I observe in "Who Favors Same-sex Marriage?" (WORLDmag.com, Aug. 25, 2010),
From the summer of 2004 through 2006 and 2009 to now, the national figures for supporting same-sex marriage have climbed dramatically from 25% to 27% to 33% to 37%. Correspondingly, between the summers of '06 and '09, support for "no legal recognition" fell 10 points from 39% to 29%. That is a significant cultural shift.
It is also striking that legally recognizing unions between people of the same sex has the approval of only 19% of Republicans. One wonders how many of those are libertarians and social liberals within the party. That level of support is almost the same as the 20% support among people “who attend religious services regularly.” That church attending group gives 31% of its support to some sort of legally recognized partnership, lower than the Republican figure of 39%.
I also share this reflection on the notoriously conservative Fox News that sponsored the poll (which I am assuming to be professionally done and accurate).
I have strong suspicions that the network fully supports the idea, and actively promotes it. They frequently run stories on the subject to the point that I cannot let my children watch the show without great caution. Yes, news on this subject is event-driven, but their stories always feature multiple, successive images of same-sex couples "marrying," kissing, hugging, etc. All of this seems calculated to desensitize us to what traditionally would have shocked the average viewer, and to convince us of its normalcy and the inevitable legalization and social acceptance of the practice.
CBS reporter, Lesley Stahl, once did a story on Ronald Reagan that was highly critical of the President. Michael Deaver, Reagan's Deputy Chief of Staff for image-crafting, phoned her up and thanked her for it. She was confused, of course. But he pointed out that the images were all quite flattering, and that that is all that people would remember.
With these suspicions in mind, consider what we were dished up from the Fox News All Stars this evening. Bret Behr asked for their response to former Republican National Committee chairman from the GWB years, Ken Mehlman, "coming out" this week. It's not a story, they all said. A guy from Roll Call said lots of Republicans now have homosexual friends and family members. Opposition is fading fast. Juan Williams agreed. Charles Krauthammer said that opposition comes from his generation. But they will be washed from the scene, leaving only young people like his son who thinks it is just a natural expression of what human beings are. No big deal. Behr added with a smile and a twinkle in his eye (I may be over-interpreting) that Tony Perkins at the Family Research Council, of course, disagrees.
What we are seeing here may not be so much the new voice of political conservatives as the voice of the high-metropolitan Washington cultural elite showing off their sophistication. It is a huge leap from having a homosexual relative to not just tolerating homosexuals socially, but legitimating homosexual "marriage." In the chatter and squawk of DC politics that may seem reasonable, but I don't see it mainstreaming in most of America.
But Fox will work on middle America with those kissy, huggy images.
Appendix: Regarding the opposition to same-sex marriage from those with "less than a college education," it is worth keeping in mind the ISI report from 2007: "Students Know Less After 4 College Years," Annie Karni, New York Sun, Sept. 19, 2007).
"At the most expensive colleges, they actually graduate knowing less," the executive director of the Jack Miller Center at the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Michael Ratliff, said. "Colleges and universities are not directing students to the courses that would educate them. We want to know whether after getting $300 billion to do their work, universities are actually educating their students."