Friday, August 20, 2010

Why the Rhode Island Poll Numbers Don't Tell the Whole Story

Sorry that it has been so long since i have posted on here, but time has been flying as I have been preparing for school to start up again here in a few weeks. I'm having to review some material before the term begins so that I do not have much difficulty in the coming months; hence my blogging has been rather sporadic lately. I do apologize.

Today I was thinking about the recent poll out of Rhode Island about marriage equality. There is much fanfare within the gay community about this poll - and there well should be - for it shows that Rhode Islanders support gay marriage 59% to 31%. As OnTop Magazine states....
A new poll finds a large majority (59%) of Rhode Islanders support gay marriage.
The poll of 500 registered voters was commissioned by the Boston-based group Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD).
When asked, “Do you favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally?” fifty-nine percent of respondents were in favor and thirty-one percent were opposed.
The same poll conducted in 2008 found 49 percent in favor and 37 percent opposed.
“Rhode Islanders are ready to allow loving, committed same-sex couples to gain the dignity and respect that marriage brings, along with all of the legal rights and obligations that marriage brings,” Kathy Kushnir, executive director of Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI), said.
Though this might be a cause for some rejoicing within the gay community - since over the last two years there has been a 10 point jump in "support" for marriage equality - I would hesitate to call this a breakthrough for Rhode Island.

To be sure, Rhode Island is a very open and progressive state, a state where LGBT forces, such as Marriage Equality Rhode Island, have been able to make great inroads. This being said, we should look at the method in which the poll was conducted, and compare that with another, not well cited poll just completed by the Public Policy Polling - a more liberal leaning polling organization. PPP conducted an poll which asked the question "Do you think Same-Sex Marriage should be legal or illegal?" Here are the results...
Do you think same-sex marriage should be
legal or illegal?
Legal............................................................... 33%
Illegal .............................................................. 57%
Not sure .......................................................... 11%
Why is this result so different than the one also just released by CNN (as I blogged about here), as well as how does this have any impact on the Rhode Island poll? The Christian Institute interviewed the director of PPP, who said this about the differences in the CNN poll and the PPP poll..
Americans are censoring their own conservative opinions on same-sex marriage when asked about it in surveys, according to the Director of a polling group.
Tom Jensen says it would be “frankly impossible” to say that Americans are in favour of same-sex marriage in light of the 31 states which have rejected it in a public vote.
He is a supporter of same-sex marriage, but he said that people may feel “social anxiety” and give pro-homosexual answers when being asked about same-sex marriage in polls.
Mr Jensen’s comments come as some homosexual marriage supporters herald a CNN poll which appears to show narrow support for same-sex marriage in the USA.
But, a poll by Mr Jensen’s Public Policy Polling (PPP) organisation showed only 33 per cent of respondents are in favour of same-sex marriage.
He says a reason for this is the difference in polling methods. PPP uses automated polling, where the respondent presses a button, but CNN and others use ‘live’ interviewers where answers are given to a person.
Mr Jensen said respondents are “more likely to tell their true feelings on an automated poll where there’s no social anxiety concern than to a live interviewer who they may be worried about the reaction of”.
He then backs up his concept of "social anxiety" when it comes to gay marriage by showing a historical example...the differences in PPP polling over the Maine gay marriage referendum vs. the national traditional live interviewer polling.
PPP accurately predicted the result of a November vote on same-sex marriage in the US state of Maine.
Its polling showed that voters would reject same-sex marriage by a margin of four per cent. But other polling, done ‘live’, showed it would be supported by up to eleven per cent.
Citizens in Maine voted to reject same-sex marriage by around six per cent.
Though I, like any supporter of marriage equality, do like seeing polls that show that more and more Americans are supporting the concept, I also recognize the benefits of Mr. Jennings approach. I buy the concept of "social anxiety" when it comes to issues such as discrimination. No one likes to appear to be discriminatory, so therefore when they are talking with a live person and assert a discriminatory point of view, the are afraid of the interviewers reaction, and give a skewed answer. An interesting concept that I will have to do alot more research on.

So how does this apply to the recent Rhode Island poll? Because the RI poll was conducted in the traditional manner with live interviewers. Because the people of RI are generally progressive, it would not sit well with them for a live interviewer to know how they truly felt on the subject. Thus, they would be more likely to "support" same sex marriage. So though I can applaud the "trend" that we are seeing in Rhode Island, I am not one to jump on the automatic assertion that the majority of Rhode Islanders support gay marriage.

A copy of the RI polls press release is below.

Rhode Island gay marriage poll 8/18/2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hide and Seek

Though I am not one for putting music videos on my blog, as this is more a philosophy/news blog, I could not help it with this one. Though this song has been out for years, and was again made popluer by Jason Derulo, I find that the message of this song is very powerful. I think about this song when I ponder the mentality of those who labor against equality...especially this part of the chorus...

Mmmm whatcha say,
Mmm that you only meant well?
well of course you did
Mmmm whatcha say,
Mmmm that it's all for the best?
of course it is
Mmmm whatcha say?
Mmmm that it's just what we need
you decided this

where are we?
what the hell is going on?
the dust has only just begun to form
crop circles in the carpet
sinking feeling

spin me round again
and rub my eyes,
this can't be happening
when busy streets a mess with people
would stop to hold their heads heavy

hide and seek
trains and sewing machines
all those years
they were here first

oily marks appear on walls
where pleasure moments hung before the takeover,
the sweeping insensitivity of this still life

hide and seek
trains and sewing machines (oh, you won't catch me around here)
blood and tears (hearts)
they were here first

Mmmm whatcha say,
Mmm that you only meant well?
well of course you did
Mmmm whatcha say,
Mmmm that it's all for the best?
of course it is
Mmmm whatcha say?
Mmmm that it's just what we need
you decided this
whatcha say?
Mmmm what did yousay?

ransom notes keep falling out your mouth
mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cut outs
speak no feeling no I don't believe you
you don't care a bit, 
you don't care a bit

(hide and seek)
ransom notes keep falling out your mouth
mid-sweet talk, newspaper word cut outs

Monday, August 16, 2010

Breaking News!! 9th Circuit Court Grants Stay!!

In a very saddening ruling to many in California and across the United States...the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a stay on Judge Walkers ruling that legalized gay marriage in California.

Perry v. Schwarzennegger - 9th Cir. - Order Granting Stay Pending Appeal

Target Ain't People

In an event sponsored by, a sing along at a Target store...brilliant!!

Breaking News!! Mexican Supreme Court OK's Gay Adoptions

I am becoming very very surprised about how progressive our neighbor to the South is looking these days. Today in a 9-2 decision, the Mexican Supreme Court affirmed Mexico City's gay adoption policy, and stated that all other states must also recognize the validity of Mexico City adoptions.

From the San Jose Mercury News.
Mexico's Supreme Court voted Monday to uphold a Mexico City law allowing adoptions by same-sex couples.
The justices voted 9-2 against challenges presented by federal prosecutors and others who had argued the law fails to protect adoptive children against possible ill effects or discrimination, or to guarantee their rights to a traditional family.
Justices voting with the majority argued that once same-sex marriages had been approved, it would be discriminatory to consider those couples less capable of parental duties than heterosexual couples.
The court voted earlier this month by the same margin to uphold same-sex marriages themselves under a Mexico City law enacted March 4.
Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples have married under the law, but city officials have not yet reported any applications by those couples to adopt children.
The law applies only in Mexico City, but other states must respect marriages and adoptions made in the capital.

The True Breakdown of the Family

Well its another beautiful Monday, and as such, here I am back at the computer. The above video shows one of the main reasons why those who are anti-gay marriage are so adamant about denying marriage equality; because they are afraid that their children will be taught about gay marriage from their teachers in the public schools. There are many arguments that are out there on this "children in school" argument, such as that the parents think that gays and lesbians are somehow inferior to heterosexuals or that same-sex unions themselves are inferior to heterosexual unions - yet I believe that these arguments don't see the bigger picture involved. The animosity of the parents that gay activists want to point out, is not the "real issue", yet we focus on that because we like to address particulars rather than overall trends. Today, I am going to attempt to do the latter. For I don't see the parents having only animosity or bigotry towards LGBT people, though it is a part of it. Instead, I see in this issue a great "tell" so to speak, of the parents view of both themselves and the State in their children's lives.

To boil it down in one sentence. Parents do not want their children to be taught about gay marriage in school because they believe that the state should take the parents role in instructing the parents view of morality.

Todays family system, as many psychologists, sociologists, and anthropologists have claimed, is in a state of decay. Traditional family structures are disappearing - not because of outside influences, such as the gay community - but instead because of influences within the family unit itself. Families do not spend adequate time with one another because they they don't have said time. There is work, social activities, extracurriculars etc. that clamor for the attention of the family unit. This internal lack of communication and time spent is what leads to the breakdown of the family, for if the parents are too busy to spend time with their children, there will naturally be a lack of intimacy and communication between them. What little time that the family's do have with each other is now spent asking how each others day went - not discussions on the parental views of morality.

It is because of this lack of time and commitment that the parents have towards their children; the rise in our culture of having both parents working, or an increase in daycare usage - not disparaging either mind you - that we see the mentality of the parent take shape. Because they themselves have such little time to invest in their child, they expect and demand that those whom they shuffle their children off to - ministers, daycare workers, coaches, and teachers - must instruct their children in the "correct" view, aka the parents view,  of morality.

School is no longer about teaching the three "r's"; instead it is about instructing children in morality and ethics. Parents have gone along with this concept for years, because to them it is easy; the state is not teaching anything that the parents disagree with, so there is no reason to make a fuss. Yet when an issue such as gay marriage comes in, a subject upon which parents do have deeply seated beliefs, they cry foul, claiming as the ones above that homosexuality and gay marriage should not be taught until much later. Yet where was the outcry when the son came home and told him mom that they learned about heterosexual marriage that day? There was none - because the parent was "comfortable" with this aspect of the state taking on the "moral teaching" role of the parent.

As we all know, times and cultures change. What was morally acceptable for one generation might not be for the next. As we progress in our understanding of such things as human sexuality, we can see that the negativity towards the homosexual community has been undeserved. As society recognizes this, the government will then obviously teach in the school system an "updated" if you will version of ethics and morality. They will do this because for years no one has objected to these types of discussions; and personally, I believe that if  parents, like the ones in the video, do object,. they have no recourse to complain. Parents have been taking advantage of the system for years, to allow them a free pass now, no matter if they like it or not, is the epitome of hypocrisy. Here is my philosophy, if your child should be "protected" from progressive views of morality, then put your money where your mouth is and either homeschool - which requires alot of time or energy - or put your kid in private school.
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