Who supports marriage? Depends on how you ask

Posted: Aug 31, 2011 12:01 AM

Recently, Michael Barone had a column on NationalReview.com which served as a reminder that even the most politically and culturally astute among us have to avail ourselves of news outlets beyond the typical networks and/or print publications. Although this wasn’t the goal of the column, it’s the most valuable lesson we can draw from what was ostensibly aimed at convincing us that support for same-sex “marriage” is at an all-time high in this country.

To bolster this claim, Barone cited a recent Gallup poll to support the contention that same-sex “marriage” is favored “by 53 percent” of Americans.

With all respect to the renowned columnist, the Gallup numbers on this specific poll are questionable at best and, therefore, may not support Barone’s argument.

For example, as Matthew J. Franck aptly demonstrated in a recent column, the question Gallup used to ascertain America’s current views on same-sex “marriage” was ambiguous and open to interpretation. And because it was asked against the backdrop of the handful of states that have fabricated same-sex “marriage,” it could mean different things to different people.

Beyond mere ambiguity, the Gallup question actually presupposes same-sex “marriage” and then asks of the American people: “Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?”

In other words, the question is post same-sex “marriage” ceremony rather than pre-ceremony. And as such, it’s not ascertaining the kind of information that Barone seemed to base his column upon.

Credit to Franck for also pointing out that the specific Gallup poll Barone cited is so politically correct that in 2006 they changed the way they word their question, apparently so as not to give offense. Although this may seem a small point at first thought, a friendlier question can produce a friendlier answer, and it’s quite damaging to Barone’s argument that a change in the response to Gallup poll questions over the last 15 years is proof of America’s support for same-sex “marriage.”

The reality is that wording of the question is critical. Moreover, taken together, the ambiguity of the Gallup question and the fluctuation in language over time, really limit the usefulness of this particular poll with regard to same-sex “marriage” inquiries. A better poll for this application, with questions asked forthrightly, was conducted by the Alliance Defense Fund and Public Opinion Strategies during May 16-19 of this year—better not because of who asked the question, but how the question was asked.

On the issue of marriage, the ADF/POS poll found that 62 percent of those polled agreed that “marriage should be defined only as a union between one man and one woman.” That means nearly two-thirds of those polled believe marriage should remain what it has been for so many millennia, rather than be changed to accommodate the demands of the homosexual agenda.

This is consistent with results we have seen in votes on marriage amendments at the state level, where 63 percent of voters have favored protecting marriage.

Interestingly, these numbers reflect the kind numbers Gallup was getting before they changed the wording of their questions.