SSM: A Country is Moving, Its People Not So Much
Posted in the Columbus Forum
“animis opibusque parati”
Since: Oct 12
#1 Jul 3, 2013
SSM: A Country Is Moving, Its People Not So Much
Comparing a multi-year study of attitudes with other surveys suggests that America’s growing acceptance of gay marriage does not necessarily mean that individual feelings have shifted.
by Michael Todd
In coverage leading up to and reporting on SCOTUS' decisions last week removing some obstacles to gay marriage, a persistent meme has been that Americans in the last few years are increasingly OK with same-sex marriage. The evidence cited is public opinion polling, like this Gallup poll that shows Americans’ acceptance rolling over the halfway mark about a year ago.
But a new white paper from Rice University’s Portraits of American Life Study, which looks at the religious attitudes of the exact same group of 1,294 randomly sampled Americans captured in 2006 and again last year, reports that opinions not only aren’t changing, but positions are hardening. Yes, on this issue as on so many right now, Americans are more divided than ever, although not as cleanly along the red-blue fault lines as you might see on, say, Obamacare.
Ethnically, the vaunted African-American opposition to gay marriage may not be as much a factor of race, the researchers believe, as it is of African-American’s above-average religiosity.
How can it be that attitudes are changing if attitudes aren’t changing?
In part, according to Rice sociologists Michael O. Emerson and Laura J. Essenberg, because the attitude change has been exaggerated.“In fact,” they write in the white paper,“we find that statistically, there was no change in people’s response to legal marriage being defined as one man and one woman. In both years, slightly over half of adult Americans agreed with the statement [57% agreed in 2006, 53% agreed in 2012, not a statistically significant change] about one-third disagreed, and the remainder were uncertain.”
But that fail-safe statistical tool, the anecdote, suggests that lots of individuals have changed their minds and now accept, if not embrace, gay marriage. What gives?
Peeking under the numerical hood, Emerson & Essenberg find that 16% of the people who in 2006 agreed that “the only legal marriage should be between one man and one woman” disagreed with that same statement last year. But, and this is the surprising bit, 28% of the people who disagreed with that statement in 2006 — i.e. those who presumably accepted gay marriage — now agree with a more restrictive idea of marriage.
What about those swing voters of polling, the undecideds? Of those on the fence in 2006, about two-thirds have now taken a position, and by a little under 2-to-1 margin they support gay marriage.(I’m using agreement/disagreement with the statement as a direct proxy for being in favor or opposed to gay marriage. Whatever subtle difference may be covered up by that I’m willing to ignore.)
And so, write the researchers,“Thus we find substantial movement of people in every direction on the topic of legal marriage. The end result is that overall the percentages end up unchanged.” Put another way, whiles America’s attitude toward gay marriage has shifted, the attitudes of individual Americans largely has not.
What really matters, the Rice researchers insist, is the divide.“The end result is important: Americans are now more divided on this issue along educational, religious, and age lines than they were in 2006,” Emerson was quoted in a release.
And not just the infamous blue states vs. red divide, even though that colorful shorthand helps define where marriage is legally defined as solely a heterosexual endeavor.
***Regardless of what type of state people live in, in 2012, 54% agreed with the marriage statement, about a third disagreed, and the remainder was uncertain.
What is striking about this finding is it suggests that how marriage is legally defined across the states has little to do with actual public opinion, and more to do with higher-level political debates and special interest groups...."
“animis opibusque parati”
Since: Oct 12
#2 Jul 3, 2013
#3 Jul 3, 2013
I have and will always hate Pha Gots.
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