Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The social costs of gay marriage in MA (Maggie Gallagher) :

Five years after same-sex couples first began to enter legal marriages --recognized by court order -- in Massachusetts, what do voters in the Bay State think about gay marriage?

A new poll commissioned by my organization, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Massachusetts Family Institute indicates that voters remain sharply and surprisingly divided about gay marriage.

When asked, "Do you personally favor or oppose same-sex marriage generally?" 43 percent of Massachusetts voters favor same-sex marriage and 44 percent oppose it, with the remainder saying they don't know or choosing not to respond.

The telephone survey of 306 people taken March 30 to March 31, 2009, is representative of voters in Massachusetts and carries a margin of error of plus or minus 5.7 percent...

I have argued that over time gay marriage will weaken support for the idea that marriage really matters because children need a mom and dad.

Massachusetts voters were also asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement, "All things being equal, it is better for children to be raised by their married mother and father." Seventy-six percent of voters agreed (66 percent strongly) while 21 percent disagreed (13 percent strongly).

A similar question was asked in a 2004 poll of Massachusetts residents. In 2004, 84 percent of Massachusetts residents agreed (33 percent strongly) and 16 percent disagreed (2 percent strongly). Thus, in the five years since gay marriage became a reality in Massachusetts, support for the idea that the ideal is a married mother and father dropped from 84 percent to 76 percent. The proportion who disagreed strongly increased nearly sevenfold, from 2 percent in 2004 to 13 percent in 2009.

The NOM/MFI poll is also the first poll in the nation to attempt to measure the extent to which ordinary citizens feel free to oppose gay marriage in a state where gay marriage has been declared a constitutional right and is the law of the land. I know from personal conversations that at least some folks in Massachusetts are afraid to speak up for their views. But how widespread are these fears?

A surprisingly substantial minority of voters in this poll expressed fears that open opposition to gay marriage might result in retaliation or harassment of some kind.

For example, 36 percent of all Massachusetts voters agreed with the statement, "Some people I know personally would be reluctant to admit they oppose gay marriage because they would worry about the consequences for them or their children." (Twenty-four percent agreed strongly.)

A further 36 percent of voters who oppose gay marriage agreed with the statement, "If you speak out against gay marriage in Massachusetts you really have to watch your back because some people may try to hurt you." (Twenty-six percent agreed strongly.) Fifteen percent of voters who oppose gay marriage say they personally know someone who experienced harassment or intimidation because of their belief that marriage involves a man and a woman.

The NOM/MFI Massachusetts Marriage Poll thus documents a fairly significant level of apprehension among voters who oppose gay marriage about the consequences of speaking openly or acting on their belief that marriage means a husband and wife.

What difference has gay marriage made five years later? Support for the idea that children need a mom and dad has dropped, and a substantial minority of people believe it is risky to oppose gay marriage openly.


  1. Is she stupid or disingenuous?

    Obviously, people think that two parents are better than one. It used to be that if you asked "is it best to have a mother and a father" the implied alternative was to have "a single parent," so obviously people said yes.

    Now that gay marriage exists and is (relatively) common, the implied alternative is different, so more people are likely to say that "a mother and a father" isn't that important, because the alternative that they're imagining is still two parents.This is a frequent dishonest technique by the religious right. They constantly pretend that data which shows that two parents are better than one shows that two straight parents are better than two gay parents. Maybe there is evidence of that out there, but most of the studies they cite didn't even look at that issue!

    Maggie Gallagher, moreover is a moron. Here's a quote for you:

    "Same-sex marriage is quite different from bans on interracial marriage in one powerful respect: It asks religious Americans to surrender a core belief -- not only Leviticus (disapproval of gay sexual acts), but Genesis (the idea that God himself made man as male and female and commanded men and women to come together in a special way to image the fruitfulness of God)."

    Obviously lives up to the tagline of your blog, Ron. ;-)

  2. I can't read too much into this. This much variation from year to year on a poll question isn't surprising.

    I also can't see any obvious connection to the gay marriage issue.

  3. "Now that gay marriage exists and is (relatively) common, the implied alternative is different, so more people are likely to say that "a mother and a father" isn't that important, because the alternative that they're imagining is still two parents."

    Two points. First, in 2004 when the question was first asked in MA, the state was buzzing over the gay marriage issue. The MA Supreme Court had ruled in favor of it in fall 2003. Conservatives were pushing for a state constitutional amendment against it in 2004, and Romney starting issuing licenses. In the midst of all that drama, the state residents who answered that poll question were thinking of gay marriage.

    Second, as gay marriage becomes widely accepted, people will feel the need to stop believing that a child benefits from by being raised by a mom or a dad. For there to be no disadvantage with a child being raised by two moms, being raised by a dad cannot be considered important. For there to be no disadvantage with a child being raised by two dads, being raised by a mother cannot be considered important.

    Even gay families worry about their child lacking a parent of one sex (e.g., lesbians wanting to find a father figure for the boy). In terms of gender socialization, being raised in a homosexual home is the same as being raised in a single-parent home. There's all sort of research documenting the problems that stem from growing up without a mother or a father; problems that are not simply the result of not having two adults present. Kids still fare poorly if they are raised by mom and grandma--two adults.

  4. Single motherhood is considered a good thing, particularly among the female media.

    When Ann Coulter went on the View, the harpies there tore her up ... over single motherhood. Both the View and Oprah get applause and massive response from their audience in defending single motherhood, no different than the reaction to Dan Quayle (who was quite right).

    The real elephant in the room is single motherhood. Women want that as a choice, because well for many women it's advantageous. It allows combining sex and dating, and keeping on the dating circuit as long as possible to maximize pleasure, with motherhood on a woman's terms. You tend to see this (Welfare states, tropical Africa) wherever resources abound that allow it (Steve Sailer's observation).

    Gay Marriage is merely more validation of single motherhood, away from the Nuclear Family. Look at the reaction that Coulter got out of her latest book. The attacks on her were all about Single Motherhood. Defending it as an institution.

  5. Anonymous11:27 PM

    We should add that the law currently recognizes that there is a difference between mothering and fathering when they favor giving child custody to mothers rather than fathers at the point of divorce.

    Advocates of same sex marriage and gay adoption could be taken more seriously if they also advocated for the repeal of the built in bias against paternal custody.


The Inductivist admits that culture matters

A pure naturist would claim that the culture of East Asians would not change after moving to America. Let's test this with one question ...