The National Organization for Marriage commissioned a poll this past week, in which they decided to ask registered voters in the State of New York about the concept of marriage equality. They released their "findings" today, and claim that it is clear, conclusive proof that the majority of New Yorkers (57-32 percent) do not want marriage opened up to include loving and committed same-sex couples. Maybe so, maybe not...lets take a look at the survey.
Though many individuals will have a problem with the methodology of the survey, I being one of them, it is sometimes important that we not directly attack the methodology and instead show why the results - even if the methodology skewed them in the surveying organizations favor - are not what the polling organization is trying to make them out to be. In this particular survey, the National Organization for Marriage asked two basic questions. First, should the issue of marriage equality be voted on by the people, and second, what is that persons belief about marriage.
They first asked whether or not marriage equality should be voted upon by the people; with 26% saying no, 59% saying yes, and 16% saying I don't know. This seems to suggest that the majority of people in New York would want a say in the decision on marriage equality. So? Most people, if they were given the option of whether or not they - or their legislators - should vote on an issue will naturally say themselves, because they think that they know better. But that is not how the American system of Government works. We don't go to "the people" for legislative decisions, and instead we depend upon legislators that we elect, to make the decisions for our State and our Nation. Having the "people vote" on legislative issues is fundamentally against the very system of government that our Founders set up in our respective State and National Constitutions.
Second, they asked for an individuals feeling about marriage equality, whether they thought it should be only between a man and a woman, or if it should be opened up to same-sex couples. In a 57% to 32% split, the people said that they believe that marriage is a purely heterosexual institution. But this number is deceiving, for this is based upon personal beliefs, not necessarily about what they think the Government should recognize. I think that the National Organization for Marriage purposefully worded this question so as to give them an edge in numbers. Instead of actually asking a political question on whether or not same-sex marriages should be recognized and legal in New York State, they instead asked about individuals personal beliefs.
NOM NY 2011 Survey on Marriage